There were running battles in Mutare city today between the municipal police and Zimbabwe Republic Police as law enforcement agents clamped down on illegal vendors and tried to drive them to new vending sites allocated by the local authority.
Most of the vendors, who were being forced to leave illegal selling sites, camped at Old Chidzera Hall and vowed to stay put until council addresses all their grievances, including the provision of convenient vending stalls with toilets.
Some businesspeople in the eastern border town applauded the move taken by the police, saying they will now be able to sell their goods without interference from vendors.
One of the affected vendors, Tendai Gotora, said some of them were not allocated new stalls by the local authority.
His sentiments were echoed by several others who said they have been driven from customers in the city center.
The chairperson of the Mutare Informal Traders Union, Ivene Mbengo, said there is need for dialogue between the local authority, vendors and the police.
He urged his colleagues to avoid any conflicts with municipal police and other security agents.
Mbengo said the local authority should also seriously consider constructing permanent structures for vendors.
Mutare businessman, Assan Hussein, commended the move taken by the local authority saying that they were now going to operate their businesses without any hindrance.
Mutare mayor councilor, Tatenda Nhamarare, told Studio 7 the move today was in line with a government directive to remove the illegal vendors from undesignated selling sites.
The mayor said it is untrue that the new vending sites do not have toilets, adding that street traders should put their own shelters.
Councilor Nhamarare said the removal of vendors went well today despite protests from street traders.
The removal of illegal vendors started in Harare last week where at least 25 vendors have been arrested and are now facing charges of public violence. Millions of Zimbabweans have engaged in vending to make ends meet due to the current harsh economic situation in the country.