MDC Councillor urges unleashing of army on vendors

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AN MDC Councillor for Kwekwe says it was time the local authority considered hiring soldiers to get rid of illegal vendors in the Midlands city whose municipal police have proven ineffective in handling the task.

Councillor Washington Moyo was making a contribution during a full council meeting held this past week.

“I have noticed that our council security personnel are not effective in the discharge of their duties. They are not being taken seriously by the vendors,” Moyo said.

“I think it’s a waste of time to dispatch our security personnel on the ground to chase away vendors from the streets because the moment they leave, vendors will come back,” he said.

Moyo said the army could do a better job.

“Under the circumstances, I think it’s prudent that we engage the army. I suggest that we use the army to bring sanity to our city,” he said.

His suggestions were however shot down by fellow councillors who said there must never be any case in which the military is unleashed on civilians.

“We must resolve our issues as council without the involvement of the army,” said Finance Committee chairperson Silas Mukaro.

“When the situation becomes unmanageable, we must then involve the police as they are the ones responsible for the maintenance of law. The army must be in the barracks.”

Zimbabwe has, in the recent past, seen increased army involvement in civilian affairs.

When the military threw then President Robert Mugabe out and replaced him with Emmerson Mnangagwa in 2017, police were forced to abandon roadblock duties which were taken over by the military.

Soldiers were also deployed, at the time, to drive out street vendors from the Harare CBD.

Currently, armed military personnel has been tasked to accompany police to escort some buses run by government passenger transporter, ZUPCO.

This follows angry protests that rocked Harare, Bulawayo and various parts of the country mid-last month as citizens took to the streets to demonstrate against a fuel price hike by government.

At least 12 people died in the hands of security forces that were deployed to quell the disturbances.

The main opposition MDC has slammed the use of the military to maintain law and order in the country.