28 Jun 2021
28 June 2021
For immediate release
SUBJECT: ZCTU STATEMENT ON CONTINUED DEMOLITION OF VENDING STRUCTURES
The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) is greatly disturbed by the continuing demolition and destruction of informal businesses which has affected a huge number of desperate Zimbabweans.
The demolition of the so called illegal structures continues unabated without any slight consideration of the consequences on the affected people, especially women and children.
By its mismanagement of the economy in pursuit of political ends, the Government has created mass unemployment. As formal sector unemployment has risen, more and more people had to move into the informal trading sector to earn some sort of livelihood.
The current destruction of the informal sector is reminiscent of the “Operation Restore order” of 2005/6 that left over 700 000 people stranded. Previously the Government encouraged the growth of the informal sector and allowed informal traders and vendors to carry out their activities. The authorities largely turned a blind eye to vendors and traders operating in violation of by-laws.
The destruction of structures that house thousands of vendors is being done without providing any alternative.
While covid-19 has caused great suffering among Zimbabweans, the government of Zimbabwe is rubbing salt on the wounds through destruction of their only means of survival. Why they do this in the midst of Covid-9 and winter is a mystery. It borders on sadistic mannerism.
The wrecking of the informal economy sector will have serious detrimental economic effects at a time the economy is already in a parlous state. Apart from drastically increasing unemployment, the campaign will have a detrimental knock-on effect upon the formal economy.
The City Councils, various Government Ministers, and Government officials have advanced a whole miscellany of reasons for this operation. In general, the official explanations have been confusing, and occasionally at variance with each other.
The timing and magnitude of the ‘clean-up’ operation has led to much speculation as to whether there are in actuality other reasons than those officially proclaimed. For instance, some have argued that the campaign is to punish urban people for voting for the opposition. Others say that it is a pre-emptive strike against the urban poor to prevent unrest in the towns by driving people away into the countryside. There are problems with each of these speculations
The destructions violate a whole range of international human rights norms as well as fundamental rights provisions in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
That is the reason the ZCTU has always been calling for an all stakeholders approach in the formulation and implementation of policies.
Whatever the reasons for it, the cleanup exercise constitute a widespread and systematic attack on a poor and defenseless civilian population. It has laid to ruins businesses of thousands of people. Not without justification, have people likened the devastation wreaked by the government to that of a tsunami. However, unlike a tsunami, the targets have been selective and it is this selectivity which has led to the speculation that the true motives behind it are political.
The continuous heinous act of destroying people’s livelihoods should be condemned by all right minded citizens. Actually it is the government policies and corruption tht have bred disorder and pushed people to this informality. After the carnage we would obviously see the government turning a messiah’ pretending to be a caring government offering the same victims with shelter. As labour we stand firm in solidarity with the displaced informal economy traders.