By Idah Mhetu
THE Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) has described as irresponsible, the decision taken by the Harare City Council to demolish informal traders’ vending stalls in parts of the city.
In a statement Wednesday, ZimRights said the city fathers took advantage of the outbreak of the deadly coronavirus and the national lockdown to execute an exercise that threatens livelihoods of thousands of informal traders.
“ZimRights notes with concern the ongoing demolition of vending structures which began in Mbare on 18 April 2020 and thus so far spread to Highfield, Chitungwiza, Glen Norah and Kambuzuma,” the rights group said.
“At a time when Zimbabwe expects compassionate leadership in the face of the devastating effect of COVID-19 measures on suffering Zimbabweans, the Zimbabwean State has decided to inflict further injury on its people. Zimbabweans are struggling to put food on their tables.”
According to ZimRights, thousands of Zimbabweans depended on informal trading and it was against the country’s Constitution for the Harare City Council to deprive a high number of people of their economic rights.
“It is disconcerting to note the ambush-style used to demolish the structures, akin to kicking a man when he is down. Ordinary Zimbabweans are starving during this lockdown where their government does not have a rescue plan for them.
“The demolitions, without a proper and viable alternative, constitute an infringement of people’s economic rights. Indeed, Section 13 of the Zimbabwe Constitution speaks on the need for the State and all its institutions to take measures to promote private initiative and self-reliance,” reads the statement.
ZimRights went on to urge the government and local authorities to respect the rights of the citizens to earn a decent living.
“ZimRights, therefore, calls on government to respect the rights of its citizens to earn a decent living and immediately make available viable alternatives to the affected citizens as well as take serious measures to resuscitate the economy. Where allocations of vending sites are to be done, we call on the responsible authorities to do so in a transparent and non-partisan manner.”
Meanwhile, similar demolitions of market stalls are reported to be underway in other urban local councils such as Chitungwiza.
However, MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa has distanced his party from the condemned demolition of the market stalls by the Harare municipal police in the city’s Mbare suburb on Sunday.
His spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said his boss and the Harare City Council had nothing to do with the demolitions.
“This is not council’s directive or work. Government is in charge and the mayors no longer have executive powers to make any decisions. This is cruel. MDC would never do that to its supporters,” he said earlier this week.