WAR ZONE: Zanu PF and CCC activists in violent clashes over Mbare vending spaces

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By Reason Razao

STATE security agents were activated Tuesday morning to quell violent clashes, which erupted near Mupedzanhamo flea market, where suspected Zanu PF and Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) activists fought over control of vending spaces.

Mupedzanhamo has been closed for over a year forcing unregulated traders to seek vending places at an open area close to the iconic Rufaro Stadium.

When attended the scene of the reported clashes, scores of anti-riot police officers were still present to diffuse any further breach of peace.

Only a handful vendors had set up their tables to resume trading, while hordes of onlookers milled around in anticipation of more drama unfold.

Broken wooden tables as well as rock boulders and sticks used in the fights could be seen strewn all over the place.

When contacted for comment, Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) national spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi said he was yet to get a report on the violent clashes.

ZRP national spokesperson, assistant commissioner Paul Nyathi

“I am yet to receive a report of the skirmishes,” Nyathi said.

However, witnesses say chaos broke out after alleged Zanu PF youths tried to forcibly take over vending stalls belonging to alleged CCC sympathisers.

Most vendors, who spoke to said they were forced to take refuge at nearby residential flats as the violence escalated.

“We had to take refuge in the flats as stones were flying from all directions, and I am lucky I did not get hurt,” said one vendor, who requested anonymity.

“The clashes were between some Zanu PF and CCC supporters, both wanted control of the spaces, and they were also trying to occupy the space where trucks selling potatoes were parked,” said the source.

“I grabbed my stuff and rushed back to the storeroom, but I lost some clothes as l bolted for dear life.

“It was only after the police arrived that things calmed down,” added the source.

Another source expressed fear of the vigilante groups, saying Mupedzanhamo and other near open spaces were nolonger safe as they were now being politicised.

“We are not safe here anymore, these spaces are now being used to advance political interests.

“We can not be seen talking to you because we will be victimised or chased away.”

Information gathered by this publication, revealed the open spaces were rented on a daily basis and belong to members of either Zanu PF or CCC.

City Council spokesperson, Innocent Ruwende

Tenants rent tables or spaces at a US$5 fee daily.

Harare City Council spokesperson, Innocent Ruwende said the council’s informal sector committee recently made a resolution to regularise some of the unofficial markets, a move that would provide a lasting solution whilst also benefiting the local authority.

“Council is set to construct modern markets for vendors across the city with the planning stages expected to be completed by month end,” Ruwende said.

“Small and Medium Enterprises recently toured prospective vending sites in Crowborough North, Mufakose, Glen View, and Sunningdale.

“We want to construct proper and modern structures for our people to ensure that when rains come they will be sheltered.

“The planning process must be done starting this month and hope that by year end these markets will be finished. We want to do away with the cat and mouse games with the vendors,” said Ruwende.