BULAWAYO vendors have expressed concern over the continued harassment they are subjected to by municipal police during their raids in the city.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
The Bulawayo City Council (BCC) has since December last year been carrying out raids against unlicensed vendors in the city.
According to the Bulawayo Vendors and Traders Association (BVTA), municipal police have of late been resorting to violent tactics and other inhumane treatment on its members.
BVTA projects officer Kudzani Ndlovu said the behaviour of the municipal police could not be condoned, as it was unbecoming.
“The BVTA is disturbed and exceedingly outraged by municipal officers’ continuing use of violence and inhumane treatment of vendors and informal traders operating in undesignated sites.
“As a membership organisation representing vendors and informal traders in Bulawayo we find the behaviour of municipal officers outrageous and unacceptable in a democratic society. This unaccountable, abusive policing can only cause further mistrust between the vending community and BCC,” Ndlovu told Southern Eye.
Bulawayo mayor, Martin Moyo recently defended the raids on unlicensed vendors insisting they had been given adequate time to relocate to designated sites, adding his council would not backtrack on that issue.
Bulawayo has more than 6 000 unoccupied vending bays, which were deserted after traders noticed low customer volumes since the bays were located in secluded areas.
However, Ndlovu said council should sympathise with the unlicensed vendors, arguing poverty drove them to take to hawking to fend for their families.
He added: “We have said it before and we will say it again; the vending problem is part of the bigger economic challenge that is facing the whole country.
Dealing with this problem requires a new and innovative approach which will not affect livelihoods.
“Thus, we call on the BCC to take decisive steps in availing temporary vending sites within the Central Business District (CBD) and in dealing with these unruly police officers who are slowly becoming the law unto themselves so as to restore public trust in the municipal force.”