Tsvangirai condemns Zimbabwe regime decision to deploy army on vendors

MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has warned the Zanu PF government to stay off local authorities who are currently battling to control vendors, adding that the army must refuse to be used.

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Addressing a press briefing in the capital Tuesday afternoon, a day after government said the military would be called in to remove vendors from the Harare Business District, the former prime minister said government was out stepping its mandate by unleashing the army on poor people.

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“The utterances by Chombo demanding that all local authorities should forcibly remove vendors from the streets are unconstitutional…In terms of section 276 (1) of the Constitution, a local authority has the right to govern on its own initiative, the local affairs of the people within the area for which it has been established,” said Tsvangirai.

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Local government minister Ignatius Chombo on Monday gave vendors seven days to vacate central Harare or face the ruthless hand of the army.

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But the MDC-T leader, whose party controls Harare City Council, said Chombo must back off and focus on solving the national crisis which has led to the flooding of vendors.

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“The regime must take full responsibility for the suffering that the people are going through after it failed on its election promise of creating 2 million jobs,” said Tsvangirai.

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“The army must refuse to be used against their brothers, sisters and even wives and husbands who are trying to salvage an honest living through vending under the prevailing difficult circumstances,” he added.

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Harare streets are now flooded by vendors as formal jobs are nowhere to be found.

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But that has attracted a reaction from government who view the new form of employment as a source of social chaos.

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The move by Chombo is also at variance with demands by the First Lady Grace Mugabe who, last year, told her countrywide rallies that local authorities and police should let vendors do their job freely without any hindrance.

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“The MDC will hold Robert Mugabe and his regime to account for any casualty that might be suffered in the ill-conceived brutal plan,” Tsvangirai added.

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In Harare alone, not less than 200 000 people are vending in the streets as the formal job market dwindles according to figures from the national vendors association.