Municipal police feasting from helpless street vendors

As Zimbabwe’s economic crunch continue to bite the unemployed population, vendors in Harare Central Business District have reported increased cases of harassment by municipal police officers who are reported to be looting and converting vendors wares for personal use.

Obadiah Zisengwe (49) who is living with disability was earlier this week left counting losses after municipal police officers raided and confiscated his wares before converting part of the loot for personal use.

According to Zisengwe, the municipal police confiscated his wares valued at $494, 50 which was taken to the municipality’s licensing department.

“When I went to collect my wares at the licenses office, I only recovered a few items valued at less than one hundred dollars,” Zisengwe said.

He added that his wares were in two pockets and he suspects that the municipal police officers opened and selected some valuables such men’s socks, bathing towels, woolen hats leaving him with a few things that he says cannot sustain his business.

“My wife is also disabled and we survive on vending which has been helping us to send our children to school as well as buy food for our households but with this unfortunate development, it will be difficult to survive,” said Zisengwe.

He added that it took him over a year to raise his stock to the value of over 400 dollars.

“It took me a very long time to actually raise my capital base to the value of 400 dollars and it will be difficult for me to restock and be able to run my business again,” added Zisengwe.

He appealed to government to ensure that vendors with disabilities are allowed to sell in the streets as it is the only way to ensure that they survive considering that the department of social welfare is struggling to pay them their monthly stipends.

Commenting on the issue, the National Vendors Union, National Director, Samuel Wadzanai said his organization had since engaged lawyers to seek redress and ensure that justice is done.

“We are pursuing legal action, we will fight to ensure that justice is done, we cannot have a situation where municipal officials abuse their offices and power for personal gains,” Wadzai said

Harare City Council Spokesperson, Leslie Gwindi urged vendors to bring forward names of people who are involved in corrupt activities.

“Just give us the names of those people and we will deal with them,” said Gwindi.


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