Opposition MDC Alliance and civic groups have warned that running battles between police and vendors that have become the order of the day in Harare’s central business district could escalate and build resistance against the government if no solution is found immediately.
Government is struggling to put a lid to vending as one of the measures to fight the cholera outbreak that has so far killed 49 nationwide, with 10 000 needing treatment.
The police are using tear gas to fight vendors, affecting ordinary residents who will be going about their business in the central business district.
Over the weekend, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa warned MDC Alliance councillors in the capital not to get involved.
The party spokesperson Jacob Mafume warned the fights could lead to civil unrest.
“The actions by police are tragic, fatalistic and will only lead to further unrest.
The police are trying to repeat the things that they used to do for (former President Robert) Mugabe.
They must know the consequences of acting overzealously and right now they are moving around town, beating up people who are trying to earn a living,” Mafume said.
“This is what made police enemy number one during the Mugabe regime and we thought they would have learnt a thing or two about these issues.”
Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (VISET) leader Samuel Wadzai said the clashes could lead to anarchy.
“As VISET, we urge the government to act responsibly.
As vendors, we stand for peace, love and inclusive problem-solving,” he said.
“The running battles and forceful eviction of street traders will breed nothing other than disharmony and anarchy.
We must be united as a country and address the challenges we are facing amicably; nothing beats dialogue.”
Zimbabwe Informal Sector Organisation spokesperson Makomborero Haruziviishe said the potential clashes between the public and the police are imminent if current events are not corrected.
“The brutal approach by the police, which clearly borders on public terrorism and resulted in ordinary members of the public, is fuelling a unanimous negativity syndrome against the law enforcement agents who have unfortunately turned rogue in their operations,” he said.
“A sporadic physical response by members of the public as they seek means to defend themselves against police violence are happening and they serve as warnings to the brewing storm of public resentment against such.”
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