HARARE, August 6 – Zimbabwe’s anti-riot police have been clearing informal traders off the streets of the capital in a move many of them see as President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s revenge for vendors voting for the opposition in last week’s national elections.
Since Friday last week, soldiers together with the municipal police have been knocking down market stalls.
On Monday vendors at the busy 4th Street Bus Terminus were busy removing their products from their stalls, under the watchful eye of municipal police and the military.
In the first elections since Robert Mugabe was deposed late last year, the majority of voters in Harare gave their support to opposition presidential candidate and MDC-Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa and the street traders think this angered Mnangagwa who came to campaign amongst them in the run-up to the poll.
At the time, the leader of the local vendors’ association Stan Zvorwadza expressed a measure of support for the ZANU-PF leader, possibly leading Mnangagwa to think the vendors would vote for him.
Traders who spoke to ANA on Monday expressed concern that the country now had a president who could punish citizens for voting for the opposition.
“A leader should not exhibit ‘sour grapes tendencies’, he should lead by example and try to unite the people no matter who they voted for. This is in line with the Constitution which states that one of the functions of a president is to unite the people,” said Petros Ngaambe, a university graduate who said he was forced into vending by the prevailing economic situation.
Commenting on the move by the government to shut down street vending, renowned political commentator, Dr Pedzisai Ruhanya tweeted: “It is painful for the vendors in Harare who met the Zanu PF leadership on the eve of the elections and were promised heaven.”
The issue of vending in Harare had been a political one during Mugabe’s 37-year-rule over the southern African nation.
Whenever the opposition MDC-run Harare City Council tried to clear the vendors out, Zanu-PF would take their side and blame the local authorities of trying to disturb its national drive to empower the masses.
According to the results from last week’s’ poll, Mnangagwa who got 50.8 per cent of the vote nationally but did not fare well in Harare. Chamisa polled 44.3 percent nationally but took the lion’s share of votes in the capital.
The feared military has not limited its clampdown on opposition supporters to the capital, as pictures are emerging allegedly showing how people outside Harare have been on the receiving end of brutal attacks by members of the Zimbabwe National Army(ZNA), wearing uniforms and masks.
Some of the victims who have been attacked with knives, sjamboks and rifle buts have been too scared to have their picture taken.
They say the perpetrators move in gangs of up to ten and search their victims’ pockets for cash and snatching wallets.
The opposition MDC Alliance has issued the following statement expressing concern over the welfare of Zimbabwean citizens amid the suspected attack by soldiers: “Mnangagwa unleashed soldiers who fired live ammunition leaving seven people dead and 13 others hospitalized.
“They have not stopped at that. Over 2,500 soldiers were deployed in all the high-density suburbs in Harare including Epworth, Chitungwiza, Glen View and Dzivarasekwa who have been thrashing people every night.
“State security operatives have been deployed countrywide to employ fear in the people and to stifle dissent,” the MDC Alliance said.
The Zimbabwe Defence Forces has since issued a statement disowning soldiers harassing residents, them rogue soldiers and urging citizens to report abuses to the police.
– African News Agency (ANA)