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CHAOTIC scenes characterised Harare City council officials’ bid on Friday to register thousands of vendors dotted around the capital ahead of a planned relocation to “designated vending sites”.
Harare Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi was forced to seek refuge in a council toilet after angry women vendors confronted him over accusations of nepotism.
Violence broke out with the women joined by other vendors to bring down a hastily erected marquee before Mahachi scurried for cover.
“You are all corrupt, bringing people from Mupedzanhamo (a market in Mbare) into town when there are people who have operated in this area for seven years,” shouted one woman.
A rattled Mahachi later told journalists it was the act of “elements bent on disrupting the people’s programme” but promised to investigate the matter.
“If you go around the city you will realise that people are registering smoothly; everything started well but there are elements trying to stop the whole process,” a visibly ruffled Mahachi said.
“We will bring people to protect the officials doing work here so that they continue.
“We will try to have everyone registered and the accusations they are making here will also be investigated. But if they remain unregistered then let the law take its course”.
While claiming he was not “angry (becaause) these are our people and we need to empower them”, Mahachi said he was looking critically into the issue.
“Council knows how many people are going to be accommodated and we will bring other people into designated spots from other illegal areas,” he said but insisted unnamed “elements” were out to disrupt progress.
However, for some vendors it was business as usual in the streets of Harare as they went about selling their wares despite a government ultimatum to vacate the city centre by June 26.
Government had initially given the vendors a seven-day ultimatum amid a still-borne threat to use the army to drive the informal traders off the streets.
Human rights groups and the opposition approached the High Court, accusing the government of trying to illegally bring the army into a civil matter, forcing an immediate climb-down by the administration
Defence Minister Sidney Sekeramayi then declared the military would not take part in the vendors’ removal adding officials would have to consult the police if the need arose. source-newzimbabwe
photo-Town Clerk Tendai Mahachi-nehandaradio