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Teargas & Water Cannons in Harare streets as police, council and vendors clash.

Story by Kudzai Tigere

Harare turned to a battle ground on Thursday, after a bid by the council and police to remove vendors on the streets was met with resistance from a furious group of vendors.

Council launched the operation to clean up the city on Sunday in a move to de-congest the city as it was now crowded. Harare has been rocked by cholera deaths and council feels that cleaning up the city with reduce and curb the cholera outbreak. It had been proven to be a different kind of operation as the city was now clean with minimum or no violence at all.

Chaos began on Thursday afternoon when a group of vendors stormed into town house throwing stones at the offices and vehicles in the premises, the police then reiterated by launching teargas attacks and water cannons to disperse crowds. This has always been the norm, police and council and vendors always launch a cat and mouse game that usually ends in violence.

Police spokesperson Charity Charamba urged people to remain peaceful and let the police do their work. She said “people should not take the law into their hands and they should move away from the streets to designated areas.”

The police are law enforcers and they are obliged to act to all people who are going against the law, she emphasized that anyone found at the wrong side of the law will be brought to book.

The issue of police and vendors seem to be politicized and thus we see that it is always on the limelight with little or no solutions. Vendors are a group of people who are unemployed trying to fend for their families, they are in need of jobs or projects to put food on the table.

Government needs to re-birth industries, rebuild the economy and swallow the vendors as an industrial work force. Market stalls should be constructed and rented out to vendors in designated areas.

People feel that we cannot continue to have the capital city as a war zone, the sunshine city cannot have teargas as part of our ozone layer on a day to day basis. Water cannons should not be seen roaming around freely on a daily basis all in the name of chasing away vendors on the streets. War vehicles are now an everyday sight.

There is need for the government to build back the economy, which will lead to job creation and in the long run these vendors will be swallowed into the economy scales and out of the streets.

We need clean pavements, we also need our parking spaces back but we also have to look at mothers who have babies to feed and they need to put food on the table. This issue has to be addressed with kid gloves and both parties have a win-win situation.

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