Mugabe blames UK, US for vendors menace, threatens to kick out envoys

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PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe has accused Britain and the United States of sponsoring vendors to resist government orders to move out of the country’s city centres.

Morgan Tsvangirai & Robert Mugabe

Morgan Tsvangirai & Robert Mugabe

The 91-year-old leader always blames everything that goes wrong with the country on former coloniser Britain and its ally, the US.

He insists the economic crisis which has collapsed formal industry and crippled the country was triggered by spiteful sanctions imposed by the West.

On Wednesday he said the UK and Britain were demon-possessed for wanting to see Zimbabwe ruined.

“What demons do they have? Apoka ndopanomuka shave rangu ipapo (that is where I come into my own),” said the veteran leader.

“When a person insists on wanting to do wrong things to undermine the peace and calm of a nation, to undermine the unity of a people, then they are no good for us.”

He warned the two countries’ envoys that they risked being kicked out of country if they don’t stop influencing hawkers to defy their government.

An unemployment crisis has seen millions of Zimbabweans turn to vending to survive, many flooding city centres for prime hawking spots.

The government has ordered them to vacate the central business districts but most have refused to move.

Addressing a small to medium enterprises expo in Harare Wednesday afternoon, Mugabe said Washington’s envoy to Harare Bruce Wharton and his counterpart from London,  Catriona Langton were funding the current resistance from the hawkers to be relocated from the city centre to designated sites.

“The resistance by vendors, we see the British and American ambassadors coming to the vendors and giving them money wanting them to continue to resist and these are ambassadors of countries that have sanctions on us,” he said.

“We don’t want Britain and America to come here and cause problems for us. So, we have said if they continue doing that we will kick them out of the country.”

He added:“When a person insists on wanting to do wrong things to undermine the peace and calm of a nation, to undermine the unity of a people, then they are no good for us,” he said.

“We don’t need the British ambassador here; we don’t need the American ambassador here. But they would want diplomatic representation with us.

“We don’t do that in their own countries. So, they have to behave. Behave and you will be in peace with us, misbehave and we will kick you out right from the bottom. It’s our country.”

Government’s order that the vendors leave city centres has resulted in running battles with local authorities as the hawkers resist the relocation bid.

Mugabe said vendors must move out of the streets and conduct their businesses at selected points.

“We want law-abiding people,” he said.

The Zanu PF leader whose party, before elections in 2013, promised to create 2 million jobs said he was worried by the rate at which companies were closing down and rendering many jobless.

He said the economy is now being sustained by informal traders who are contributing 50 percent of the country’s gross domestic product and accommodating 60 percent of the country’s labour market.

The veteran leader said although the economy was in the red, he was confident that it will soon emerge from the woods and start to tick.

Vendors have demanded that government establishes proper trading sites and jobs as promised in the economic blueprint before they could be relocated to the designated sites.

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