Harare hires soldiers to drive out illegal vendors

HARARE city authorities have roped in army details to help municipal police drive out hundreds of illegal vendors who continue to throng the capital, selling perishables and all manner of bric-a-brac to survive in a failing economy.

SoldiersThe development comes after most vendors largely snubbed a council registration exercise introduced recently to control the ballooning population of illegal traders within the Central Business District (CBD).

The vendors, who throng city walkways with fresh vegetables, airtime recharge cards, pirated CDs and an innumerable miscellany of products, have also defied continued raids by municipal police as they keep invading the city centre to eke out a living.

Over 2,100 vendors were reportedly registered with the authority, paying fees of between $1 and $3, depending on the type of wares they sold.
After the lapse of the stipulated registration period, the city moved to dislodge those who snubbed the registration process with municipal police now seen being escorted by uniformed soldiers and regular police details on council enforcement trucks.

Although there have not yet been any reported incidents of heavy handedness in dealing with traders by the soldiers, vendors groups have condemned the use of the army on civilian activities.

The National Vendors Union, which claims to have a registered membership of over 12,000 individuals operating within the CBD area alone, slammed the exercise.

"We condemn the involvement of the state security apparatus in the affairs of vendors because these are socio-economic issues," said Samuel Wadzai, National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe national director.

Wadzai said as various vendor representative organisations, they have confronted city authorities over the operation and were told the army
beef-up was to stave-off any violent resistance from defiant vendors.

"Their (authorities) argument is that the registration process that they introduced is a government programme, the army will come in to ensure that elements who would try not to comply would be removed by force," he said.
"They made that very clear to us in one of the meetings that we attended. We questioned the involvement of the army in this process and they said that there are high chances that some vendors would resist this plan.

"We were shocked when the director of human resources announced that the army was going to be involved ... we don't want the army, the ZRP to be involved in issues of vendors."

Harare mayor Bernard Manyenyeni denied any knowledge council staff had hired soldiers to deal with illegal traders.

"This is the first time l am hearing about this but l know last week there was a discussion between management and JOC (Joint Operations Command); whether out of that they resolved to seek military help l am not sure."
JOC is a committee that involves all the country's security organs who regularly meet over security issues concerning the country.

Manyenyeni however promised to investigate the reports.

Although Harare is yet to witness this in the recent, incidences of violent clashes between municipal police and vendors have been reported in Masvingo and Gweru. (newzimbabwe.com)

DZ residents demand community radios

Dzivarasekwa residents have called on government to license community radio stations so as to enhance access to information and sharing ideas that can promote development in their society.

DZ CommunityThis came up during a community meeting organised by Community Radio Harare (CORAH) in Dzivarasekwa Tuesday to discuss service delivery issues. ‘We are tired of accessing limited or no information from  ZBC (state  and  national broadcaster) which does not tell our story but that of politicians and their interests. We would want a community radio that tells the story of DZ because we are the people and can solve our issues if we have the platform to do so and radio is the ideal stage,’ lamented Nyasha Ndlovu of Dzivarasekwa 3.

'We have been listening to these public radio stations for long and all they talk about are the broad national political issues that doesn’t help us in any way, nothing at all to do with our Dzivareskwa community which is facing serious problems of water, refuse collection and pot-holed roads,’ said Norah Dhliwayo of Dzivarasekwa 2.

‘We have limited access to information as we have nowhere to access information and knowledge that specifically cover developmental issues. A lot of projects are sprouting nationwide but Dzivarasekwa has nowhere to access information on such programmes. We want to have our own community radio station that would discuss issues that encourage development within this community,’ explained  Alice James.

Zimbabwe is the only country in Southern Africa with no licenced community radio stations despite the existence of radio initiatives such as CORAH in Harare, Radio Dialogue in Bulawayo, Wezhira Radio in Masvingo, Patsaka Nyaminyami in Kariba and dozens others scattered across the country.

Chitown relives doctors’ strike

The Chitungwiza Residents Trust (CHITREST) has said the just ended industrial action by doctors at public hospitals literally crippled operations at Chitungwiza Central Hospital resulting in loss of lives and suffering amongst patients and their relatives.

Chitungwiza Central Hospital

In an interview with Talking Harare, CHITREST secretary Tinashe Kazuru said the situation was complicated by poverty which meant residents could not visit private doctors and hospitals that charge commercial and high medical consultation fees. ‘The doctors’ strike that ended yesterday (Thursday) brought a lot of suffering amongst residents including loss of lives, pain and trauma. Although we are yet to conclude our assessment of the strike's impact, our members say they lost relatives who could not get assistance at Chitungwiza Central Hospital which serves 350 000 residents and  is also a referral hospital for Mashonaland East Province.

‘They were also subjected to lots of suffering and trauma emanating from failure to access medical help and in future we want the government to be proactive and ensure citizens are not exposed to death, suffering  and trauma. People have rights to life and access to health, ‘ said Kazuru adding fears of Ebola outbreak also worsened the situation.

These statements come after the Zimbabwe Hospital Doctors Association ( ZHDA) said its members had agreed to call off the strike and resume normal duties starting today (Friday) after their employer gave them assurances that their grievances would be addressed urgently.

‘We acknowledge the progress made in the negotiations and the rectifications made by the employer on issues around allowances,’ said ZHDA after about 150 doctors from Chitungwiza Central, Harare Central and Parirenyatwa Hospitals met in the capital and tasked the executive to set new deadlines for the salary review.

The strike, which started at  major referral hospitals in Harare and Bulawayo three weeks ago before it spread to provincial and district hospitals, had crippled  the health delivery system with only emergency cases being attended to, while others sought treatment at private surgeries and council clinics.

The doctors were demanding a review of their working conditions, among them a 400% increase in their monthly salaries to $1 200, upward review of their housing allowance from $250 to $350 per month and a duty-free car import facility.

They also wanted government to increase their on-call allowances and introduce a risk allowance against diseases such as Ebola, tuberculosis and HIV and Aids.

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