THOUSANDS of Harare vendors and push-cart operators in Mbare and Highfield were on Monday morning drafted from their stalls and press-ganged into attendin
g President Mugabe’s homecoming at the airport. Mugabe was returning home from a two-week trip to Cuba and the United States.
The vendors from traditional opposition strongholds said they had no option but to go as they had been threatened with withdrawal of their trading licences.
“We were rounded up and told to go to the airport. Most of us could not refuse as these markets are our only source of income,” said one vendor.
Zanu PF Harare provincial officials who were in charge of the operation used market records to ensure that all the vendors complied.
Zupco provided transport for the vendors but failed to ferry the crowd back from the airport. Most of them were left stranded as they did not have money to pay for transport. One woman who is a vendor at Mupedzanhamo said: “Can you believe that we spent the whole day without eating anything waiting for the president? To make matters worse the weather was unbearable, it was just too hot.”
The vendors were also prejudiced of income as they lost a day’s earnings while at the airport.