Home » Judicial » High Court Okays Vendors’ Eviction

The High Court yesterday ruled that the eviction of illegal vendors from the streets of Harare and other towns must go ahead and only those operating from designated sites must be spared.

The court ordered that when the Government eventually removes the illegal vendors, due process must be followed and that the military should not be engaged in the eviction process.

The ruling was made in a case in which the Zimbabwe Informal Sectors Organisation (ZISO) was seeking to bar the Government from removing both illegal and legal vendors from the streets.

ZISO lawyers made a U-turn when they appeared before Justice Felistus Chatukuta and agreed that only legal vendors should be spared.

This was after Justice Chatukuta made it clear that the court was not in a position to protect an illegality by barring the eviction of the illegal vendors.

Local Government, Public Works and National Housing Minister Dr Ignatius Chombo, Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni and Defence Minister Sydney Sekeramayi were listed as respondents in the urgent chamber application filed last Friday.

The court order that was issued by consent of all the parties reads:

“It is ordered by consent of the parties that the 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents be and are hereby interdicted from evicting the applicant’s legal vendors from their designated vending sites, without due process.

“The second respondent (Defence Minister) shall ensure that the Defence Forces of Zimbabwe and the Joint Operations Command shall refrain from participating in the civic duties of the 1st and 3rd respondents (Local Government and council).”

Mr Chris Mhike of Artherstone and Cook represented ZISO, while Mr Charles Kwaramba of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni acted for Harare Mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni.

Mr Joseph Mumbengegwi of the Attorney-General’s Office appeared for Minister Chombo and Minister Sekeramayi.

Commenting on the consent order yesterday, Mr Mhike said: “We agreed that whatever process to be undertaken by Government, due process of the law must be followed. We also agreed that the military will not be used in the eviction process.”

Cllr Manyenyeni’s lawyer Mr Kwaramba said the eviction process will go ahead.

“In fact, our agreement means that the eviction of vendors from the streets will go ahead, but certain conditions should be met,” he said.

“If the soldiers are not involved, then we can still engage the police to remove all the illegal vendors.”

Mr Kwaramba said the consent order regarding the manner of eviction only applied to legal vendors.

“There is no question on the eviction of illegal vendors,” he said. “The consent order is only applicable to legal vendors who are at designated points and not the illegal ones.”

Mr Mumbengegwi said the application by ZISO did not make any sense because the legal vendors were not even targeted in the pending evictions.

“It boggles the mind what the application sought to achieve because the eviction targeted illegal traders only,” he said. “We cannot protect an illegality by allowing illegal traders on the streets. Even the judge raised the same concern in the chambers that she could not rubberstamp an illegality.

“Illegal vendors should be evicted, but the defence forces and the Joint Operation Command (JOC) will refrain from participating in the process.”

Government last week gave illegal vendors a one week ultimatum to vacate the streets, with yesterday being the deadline, but the period was extended by two weeks, leaving the deadline for their vacation on June 26.

In the application by ZISO, the vendors argued that the involvement of soldiers in the process was unlawful because they should only chip in after declaration of a state of emergency.

They also argued that the military and security forces should not be involved in the civic duties of the municipalities.

They argued that in Harare only, vendors exceeded 20 000, but council had provided only 6 000 stalls, which makes it impossible for all of them to be legitimately accommodated.

It was also argued that the clean-up would deprive vendors of their means of livelihood.

Source : The Herald