Chaos in City of Kings

THERE was chaos in the Central Business District (CBD) here this week when disgruntled vendors stoned the Bulawayo municipal police who were on a routine raid of illegal vendors in the city.

The incident that happened in full glare of the WeekendPost crew mid-morning at corner Herbert Chitepo Street and Sixth Avenue saw the vendors losing their patience before venting their anger at the officers who had somehow made operating in the entire CBD a nightmare to the vendors.

In an apparent show of how people have lost patience with the way things have turned out in the economy, where a population of over 80 percent is now into informal trading, the incident was confirmation of palpable anger simmering within Zimbabweans struggling to eke out a living.

Two UD trucks full of municipal police officers, some in plain clothes, combed the CBD, terrorising vendors who could be seen fleeing in different directions clutching their wares.

After having watched the officers handcuffing and shoving those caught onto trucks, all hell broke loose when one officer struck a vendor on the forehead with handcuffs for resisting arrest.

Aggrieved by the incident, suddenly, in numbers they charged towards the trucks and started pelting stones at the officers who surprisingly retaliated by picking the bananas and tomatoes they had confiscated throwing them at the crowd. But they were not as lucky as they were hit by stones.

Sensing danger, the vehicles sped off with the agitated vendors in hot pursuit temporarily bringing business to a standstill. Vendors who spoke to the WeekendPost said this was not the right time to tamper with people’s emotions as they were already living on the edge.

“The public’s demonstrations against the ruling government were imminent if such incidents persist,” said one vendor only identified as MaNyoni. Speaking after the incident Obert Manduna, the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe provincial chairman had no kind words for the local authority.

“Basically, there has been criminalisation of vending here, the city council must not act as if they are not seeing the reality on the ground. Life is now tough for everybody,” Manduna said.

“Today’s clashes are unfortunate but the municipal police must be human as they go about their duties. For a fact, naturally a hungry man is an angry man. But let them be warned while we don’t encourage violence when push comes to shove, we don’t have an option but we retaliate.”

Manduna also pointed that the best way was dialogue between the vendors and the local authority rather than resorting to violent ways of addressing the matter. —Jeffrey Muvundusi

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