Mbare Mupedzanhamo turf wars, four months on

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By Darlington Gatsi

HARARE’S largest flea market Mupedzanhamo resembles deserted ruins with Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) officers manning road blocks at the intersection of Remembrance drive and Cripps while another at corner Remembrance drive and Roden street.

ZRP officers have been blocking the road leading up to Mupedzanhamo since last year when violent clashes erupted in Mbare consequently prompting closure of vending business in the vicinity.

The violent clashes were reportedly fuelled by Zanu PF and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) ‘agents’ who solicited money from vendors for ‘protection’ and use of vending bays.

CCC Member of Parliament (MP) Willias Madzimure Thursday expressed concern over the closure of Mupedzanhamo flea market saying the informal trade disturbance is a blow to many, especially vendors.

“It is now five months after closure of Mupedzanhamo Market but this place is still manned by police. Teargas is thrown almost every day, save for maybe two days a week that is Saturday and Sunday. This is not being done by the council – it is the police. If you ask them who gave them authority to be there, there is no answer.

“There are a lot of people that stay at Magaba Hostels who are inhaling teargas because of these activities and it is a danger to their health. This market creates informal employment for indigenous people, a lot of people have survived through selling at Mupedzanhamo.  We are appealing that the Minister of Local Government would come and explain to the House why Mupedzanhamo Flea Market is being guarded by police for five months now.

“This is now a difficult place to reach because there will be teargas on a daily basis.  So I wanted the Minister of Local Government to come and explain so that people around that place live freely, including those who sell bales,” said Madzimure.

Mupedzanhamo area is usually a hive of activity with people in high congestion to buy from flea markets.

When visited the area ZRP officers could be seen turning motor vehicles away from Remembrance drive.

A vendor who spoke to on condition of anonymity said there has not been any communication from council concerning the reopening of vending stalls.

Harare City Council committee chairman responsible for small and medium enterprises, Denford Ngadziore said the issue will be discussed during next councillors sitting, without disclosing when it will be given the greenlight to reopen.

“We are waiting for the council to meet next week. Maybe soon after council we will have a scheduled date. There are some issues that need to be finalised which need council resolution,” said Ngadziore.