ZANU PF has hijacked a vendors’ protest against Masvingo City Council’s $2 daily vending fee that has seen six people arrested and the city’s biggest fresh farm produce market closed.
The party forced the council to reopen Chitima market after vendors refused to pay the daily fee and clashed with municipal officials, arguing that the local authority was not building toilets for them despite pocketing the money.
There are no toilets for the more than 500 vendors, who have resorted to the nearby bush near Mucheke River.
Council says $22 000 is needed to construct ablution facilities.
Several vendors were left injured while others were arrested after police descended on the market, in downtown Masvingo city, randomly beating anyone in sight.
Among those arrested were organisers of the demonstration – Masvingo Residents’ Trust’s programmes manager Prosper Tiringindi and others from the Masvingo United Residents and Ratepayers’ Association.
Masvingo provincial police spokesperson Inspector Charity Mazula refused to comment on the arrests.
After the closure of the market, Zanu PF interim provincial chairman Parardzai Chakona addressed the vendors, where he took the opportunity to seek political mileage, unilaterally declaring that the city would, by day-end reopen the market.
Chakona said he would direct the city fathers to slash the daily fending fee from $2 to $1.
“We are not going to negotiate with the council,” he said.
“What I am saying here is the word that stands.
“By day-end, the gates will have been unlocked and you will, starting tomorrow, pay $1 instead of the $2 fee.”
The market was reopened after council bowed down to pressure.
Town clerk Adolf Gusha evaded questions on whether they had succumbed to pressure, but confirmed that the party held a meeting with council officials to resolve the issue.