PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe’s demand for the removal of poor citizens eking a living out of street vending in most of the country’s major cities has drawn the ire of opposition parties, analysts and activists who blamed his Zanu PF government for creating the crisis through bad governance.
The vendors have vowed to stay put until government has created the 2,2 million jobs it promised in the run-up to the 2013 elections.
Mugabe, in an address to the Zanu PF youth league national assembly at the weekend, ordered vendors to vacate the streets, describing them as “filthy”.
“Harare is filthy. There is garbage all over the city and vendors are everywhere even in the streets causing chaos and disturbing the smooth flow of traffic. We have failed and must come up with a plan,” Mugabe said, indicating he would confer with Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and his Home Affairs counterpart Ignatius Chombo.
But MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu yesterday described vendors as a symptom of Mugabe’s failure.
“Mugabe is living in his own world of make-believe. He is completely lost to the reality that Zimbabwe’s economy is now a ramshackle one, thanks to decades of his misrule, mismanagement and unprecedented corruption.
“Those vendors are on the streets simply because there are no jobs in the formal sector. All they want are decent jobs,” he said.
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson, Jacob Mafume weighed in saying: “He (Mugabe) created the informal sector, which he seems proud of as part of his 2 million jobs promise. His government has destroyed what little of formal industry was around leaving citizens with no option. Zimbabweans on the streets are trying to mitigate the effects of his failure.”
Human rights activist, Dewa Mavhinga reminded Mugabe that his wife Grace a few months ago urged vendors to stay put, saying due process should be followed.
“Was it not his wife, who said vendors should be let free to roam and operate from the streets? The Mugabes should not use vendors to play political football without regard to their rights.
“Any such removal of vendors should only be done after consultation with vendors following due process of law, respectful of their constitutional rights, and without excessive force by law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Ricky Mukonza, a South Africa-based development practitioner, said Mugabe’s rant exposed his “indigenisation hypocrisy”.
“Both legal and illegal vendors are a creation of the Zanu PF government’s indigenisation policy drive of the past two decades. Mugabe only turns to the indigenisation rhetoric when he wants to gain political capital,” Mukonza said.
MDC-T Bulawayo spokesperson, Felix Mafa Sibanda said the economic meltdown caused by Mugabe’s administration created the vendors he was now crying about.
“Vending was introduced by 95% unemployment in the country. Looting of precious stones by the First Family and big fish from Zanu PF is the source of poverty created by non-performance of the government,” Sibanda said.
“It is highly unlikely that vendors will adhere to this illogical threat by the President. He is trying to divert attention from his party squabbles. It is therefore important to note that looting and Zanu PF-induced poverty is killing the economy and as such no one will adhere to this madness of removing vending activities from streets.”
Sibanda said wealth creation was the only solution and it was now evident that Zanu PF was insensitive to people’s plight.
“Without transformation politically, there shall be no economic change. Zimbabweans must take advantage of next year’s elections to correct this disease that has been with us for 37 years,” Sibanda said.
Ibhetshu likaZulu secretary-general, Mbuso Fuzwayo said Mugabe’s remarks were a sign of a President who had lost touch with reality.
“Instead of complaining about the vendors, he must look internally, his government and his family. They are overspending, buying luxury cars when the citizens have got nothing to eat,” Fuzwayo said.
#This Constitution leader, Abigale Mupambi said vendors were actually covering up for Mugabe since he had failed to provide the 2,2 million promised jobs and later on failing again to facilitate for adequate jobs as government’s constitutional mandate.
“Actually, the President and government must be grateful and begin to support such initiatives,” she said.
In 2005, Mugabe embarked on the destruction of slums in Harare codenamed Operation Murambatsvina that the United Nations said negatively affected over 700 000 poor people.
As the economic situation in the country continues to worsen despite Mugabe’s 2013 election promise to create over 2 million jobs, ordinary citizens have turned to selling “anything and everything from every space available” in order to eke out a living.