Politicisation of vending spaces prevalent – report reveals  

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By Staff Reporter

A human rights observer report has revealed glaring politicization of vending bays in Bulawayo, with space barons affiliated with the ruling Zanu PF illegally parcelling space to unregistered informal traders for a fee.

In a report examining political incidents between January and March, the Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (ZHR NGO Forum) said this was aimed at gaining political mileage during this year’s first quarter.

“The informal vendor has become an object of abuse and constant attack all for political expediency,” read part of the report.


In a case of referral, the report said an investigation of clashes of vending spaces in Bulawayo were politically motivated. 

On 23 February 2023, The Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum (the Forum) received an alert, through one of its members based in Bulawayo, of violence that had broken out in the early hours of the morning involving scuffles between vendors and municipal police.

Violence had begun earlier in early February as Bulawayo’s City Council officers tried to remove illegal vendors from the area.

It was indicated that some of the vendors operating along 5th avenue were operating illegally, with some being accused of trading in drugs and that a practice had since been established wherein space barons, who are alleged to be affiliated to the ruling party ZANU PF, are paid a daily fee of USD$1 by each unregistered or illegal vendor operating in that space in order for their illegal vending activities to be able to continue without hindrances,” read the report.

Following the skirmishes in Bulawayo the victims however did not file police reports as they did not deny that they were operating illegally and would like to still secure their illegal vending spaces. 

It soon emerged that the victims were possibly aligned to ZANU PF and thus did not want to be associated with NGOs.

The verification team visited the Highlanders flea market in Bulawayo in a bid to gather information directly from the vendors themselves and was informed that ZANU PF allegedly conducted a cell group exercise on the day of the skirmishes to record the illegal vendors on their ZANU PF membership books so that they are recorded as being part of ZANU PF,” the report indicated.

According to ZHR NGO Forum, based on the report, there are indications that the situation can deteriorate further if the socio-economic and the civil and political deficiencies faced by the country are not approached comprehensively.