Harare Councillors promised to investigate reports that municipal police officers beat up vendors before burning their wares at the Julius Nyerere footbridge.
Thousands of dollars worth of wares, mostly clothing bales, went up in smoke in the early hours of the morning as council
stepped up efforts to remove vendors from the central business district.
Vendors have since made a report at Harare Central Police Station, but council has distanced itself from the arson, fingering internal fights among Zanu PF space barons.
Chairperson of the council committee on the informal sector Wilton Janjazi said investigations would be done to verify allegations that vendors were beaten up.
“Our duty is to enforce the by-laws and we want stability in the process. We don’t encourage people to fight and that is not expected. We condone the attack if it happened and if there are such situations, we will investigate that,” Janjazi said.
“Council has duty to undertake and whatever politicians say, our duty is clear. We don’t want violence and if there are issues that our police were beating up people, we have to look at it.”
On the burning of vendors’ wares at the footbridge, Janjazi said: “Council does not do that. Council is civilised. Those are accusations and the work of thugs. Zanu PF people have their own wars and it’s possible it’s part of their fight for space.”
There was also growing suspicion yesterday that soldiers and other security personnel were used on Thursday to beat up vendors as it turned out council had no capacity to fight vendors alone.
But council spokesperson Michael Chideme said this was mere speculation.
“Those are allegations. They are without basis and should be dismissed with the contempt they deserve. Harare city has not yet called for outside help,” Chideme said.
He also distanced council from the burning of vendors’ stockpiles.
“This matter has been reported to the police, I think. Find out from there. Council is not in the business of burning people’s wares,” he said.
Vendors were still in the city yesterday despite the removal of tents and tables from their workstations, vowing to erect new ones.