BY SILAS NKALA
INTERNATIONAL vendors’ representative group, StreetNet International, has condemned the government’s crackdown on vendors in Harare, Gweru, Chitungwiza and other towns, saying it was a repeat of the 2005 Operation Murambatsvina and vowed to take the issue to the International Labour Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Armed soldiers and municipal officers have in the past few weeks destroyed vending stalls in what government said was a bid to achieve smart cities by ridding urban areas of illegal structures.
The 2005 Operation Murambatsvina/Operation Restore Order was a large-scale government campaign aimed at forcibly clearing slum areas across the country. According to United Nations estimates, the operation affected at least 700 000 people directly, through loss of homes or livelihoods and thus could have indirectly affected around 2,4 million people. Former President Robert Mugabe and other government officials characterised the operation as a crackdown on illegal housing and commercial activities.
In a solidarity statement with Zimbabwean vendors, StreetNet said it was deeply concerned with the current situation in the country as it rendered the majority jobless.
“In the current atmosphere of intimidation, … the demolition of homes, tuckshops, markets and other vending structures, the beatings of vendors whose offence is trying to eke a living in an extremely weak economy, creates a consistent image of the worst forms of violence and harassment in the world of work – an issue under the spotlight of the International Labour Conference which will be discussed for the second time at its 108th session in Geneva from June 10 to 21, 2019,” StreetNet said.
“The centenary year of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) is with a view to adopting a new ILO Convention and Recommendation on the Elimination of Violence and Harassment in the World of Work – which Zimbabwe, as a member state, will be expected to support, and ratify…”
StreetNet called for an end to brutality and violation on human and workers’ rights.
StreetNet International represents 567 987 member organisations in streets and the informal vending and hawkers’ markets from 52 affiliate organisations in 48 countries in Africa, Asia, the Americas, including Eastern Europe.
Source : NewsDay