Sunday, August 28, 2016

Retailers, Vendors Demand Restitution in Zimbabwe
August 29, 2016
Zimbabwe Herald
Elita Chikwati Herald Reporter

Grassroots Vendors Association chairman Mr Alexio Mudzengerere assessing the destruction caused by opposition supporters during their demonstrations last week.

Vendors and retailers — whose vehicles and wares running into hundreds of thousands of dollars were looted and destroyed in violent demonstrations that rocked Harare last week — have demanded compensation from MDC-T or else they will take the battle to the party’s headquarters, Harvest House, in Harare.

The group also implored Government to ban demonstrations which affected the ordinary man.

Shops and vending stalls were destroyed resulting in the looting of goods in parts of Harare’s central business district by opposition supporters under the banner of the National Electoral Reform Agenda last Friday.

Most retailers and vendors were still to quantify the value of the goods they lost.

Shops selling laptops, cellphones, jewellery, electrical gadgets, clothing items, alcohol, fruits and vegetables were looted.

Yesterday, people were busy repairing their shops and vegetable stalls.

Most vendors said they had loans and were not sure how they would repay their creditors.

National Chairman of Grassroots Vendors’ Association Mr Alexio Mudzengerere said MDC-T offices should be relocated out of the CBD to enable people to conduct their businesses peacefully.

“We are still gathering information on what was lost and the value of the goods. We want our goods back. Our stalls are our mainstay and we have no alternative ways of earning a living.

“Our stuff was burnt and we do not have anything left. We do not even know where to start from. Why should the protesters burn our goods? We saw the people who burnt our goods and we have videos. They were wearing MDC-T T-shirts.

“Some of our members made a follow up of the goods and saw the looters carrying them into Harvest House. Demonstrations should not be allowed. They do not benefit us at all. They are now used as a way to loot shops.

“Vendors are supposed to develop and grow into huge enterprises, but how do we graduate when people destroy us like this?”

Ms Loice Karimazondo who sells snacks at Copacabana said looters left broke.

“I was away on Friday and had left my goods locked up in the locker but they were all burnt. I do not know where to get the money to restart the business.

“I am a single mother and need to pay school fees for my children. I need to pay rent. Violent demonstrations are not conducive for business,” she said.

Mr Tonderayi Dzokonya said it was disturbing that rowdy elements were disturbing hard-working Zimbabweans who were trying to earn a living.

“People should not be used by politicians to destroy other people’s lives. Instead of engaging in income-generating projects, some youths are being used to loot and steal from hardworking people. I lost goods worth $1 700 and my main worry is that I am expected to repay the money I had borrowed,” he said.

Mr Wengai Makumbe blasted those interested in attacking industrious people.

“Most people are out of jobs and rely on vending for their livelihoods. Why burn their goods? How will our families survive? These hooligans should be arrested and the law must take its course.

“We are now living in fear because of some lazy people who have evil motives. Vending has been regularised. We pay our bills to the city council and we should operate without any fear,” he said.

Shoes shop WalkTall owner Mr Anil Gulab said his shop was vandalised and shoes looted.

“We are yet to ascertain the value of the shoes we lost. We have so far established that 250 pairs of shoes worth over $3 000 were stolen.

“It is a pity people ended up looting goods. Some street kids took advantage of the situation and went on to loot shops as well,” he said.

Naganji sales and marketing manager, Mr Tinaye Kwenda said they lost clothing worth thousands of dollars including school wear, bags, men’s suits and ladies suits.

“We lost goods worth thousands of dollars that were on display and others that were in the shop. The protestors broke into the shop and looted our goods,” he said.

Efforts to get comment from Mr Stan Zvorwadza who leads to pro-MDC-T National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe were fruitless amid reports he could be among the people picked up in connection with the disturbances.

Lawyers who spoke to our sister paper The Sunday Mail over the weekend said people who lost their goods to the looters could sue the National Electoral Reforms Agenda (Nera), the organisers of the demonstrations.

Lawyer Mr Terrence Hussein said: “In this case, most insurers are likely to refuse to pay claims and at law, they are justified to do so. The victims can, however, sue the organisers and inciters of the violence and claim damages. They have a strong case in this particular instance.

“However, suing could be expensive for most of people so the quicker way would be through a law gazetted by Parliament to provide for the compensation of victims,” he said.

Another lawyer, Miss Rutendo Mudarikwa said, “They can claim damages, but that is if they can prove beyond doubt that the perpetrators are linked to the organisers. In such situations, criminals can take advantage of the situation so that is why you have to prove that the demonstrators were incited,” she said.

President Mugabe recently urged Zimbabweans to remain calm and united against anti-democratic forces bent on reversing the country’s economic fortunes.

“Even if our economy is not doing well, do you have to go into the streets and even burn some of those little shops that the people are depending on? Burn their cars in the streets, do you have to do that?” he said.

He warned opposition parties and their handlers who are sponsoring violent demonstrations in a bid to depose the constitutionally-elected Government.

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