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By Elita Chikwati
A small group of illegal vendors yesterday engaged in running battles with the police as they refused to leave the streets as part of Government efforts to contain the cholera outbreak, which has so far killed 30 people.
The Harare City Council had on Friday appealed to the illegal vendors to vacate the Central Business District.
The streets were, however, largely deserted yesterday.
Some vendors could be seen selling tomatoes along Simon Muzenda Street while others were busy erecting their stalls.
The police also visited areas like Mereki in Warren Park D, Zindoga in Waterfalls and KuHuku in Hillside in a bid to enforce the ban on food vending.
Zindoga was deserted at lunch time yesterday.
On Saturday Mereki was shut down while it was business as usual at KuHuku in Hillside where patrons ignored the plea by authorities to stop illegal food vending.
In the residential areas vendors were busy selling different wares including fruits and vegetables.
Some of the vendors said they were aware of the exercise and only brought a few wares for sale.
Others said vending was their only source of income and livelihood and continued playing cat and mouse game with the police.
The Harare City Council and the National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe last week appealed to all illegal vendors to leave the streets voluntarily to help authorities contain the cholera outbreak.
In a statement, council urged vendors to relocate to designated areas.
“This appeal comes in the wake of the cholera outbreak in Harare which is now spreading to other cities and towns and provinces. We have taken this action in the interest of public health. We are in constant engagement with the leadership of the informal sector to map sustainable solutions,” read the statement.
In some cases the vendors turned violent.
Council spokesman Mr Michael Chideme yesterday expressed optimism that the exercise will achieve its goal.
He said council had engaged different stakeholders including leaders of various traders.
“This operation and consultative action that is ongoing with the leadership of various informal trader groups we believe this time we have a sustainable solution.
“The difference from all previous such exercises is that we are working with all stakeholders to achieve sustainability,” he said.