Police Vs Vendors and Forex Dealers, Touts Again This Morning

Harare Municipal Police arrive this morning at the Fourth Street Bus Terminus to do battle yet again with forex dealers, vendors and touts. Once of them can be seen clearly carrying goods that have been confiscated from a vendor. The police are now maintaining a permanent presence at Roadport, with riot police parked two streets away.

Harare, Zimbabwe, 6 November 2009

Early this morning, the Harare Municipal Police who fought running battles with vendors and black market foreign currency dealers at Fourth Street Bus Terminus (also known as Roadport) were back.

They immediately started work, carrying off any wares they could lay their hands on as people ran away, some afraid of being caught in the crossfire and others abandoning their "duty stations". The police had driven straight into the rank itself where workers were coming off their minibuses and going to work.

I chatted later on with some of the Municipal Police, who are vowing revenge and saying they will not let go of their operation "until we clean up this place."

But, just a few metres away from Roadport itself, forex dealers were boldly going about their business, asking passers-by (me included) if they wanted "cross-rate".

The Municipal police seem to be concentrating only on the rank itself, where minibuses park and it is clear that they think yesterday's noise was largely due to touts (people who shepherd people towards various stations and into specific minibuses, calling out destinations and controlling queues of commuters during peak hours.

When I asked whether there was anything they were doing about the money-changers, they said next week they will turn their attention to them. They claimed that they were simply monitoring to see which ones where money-changers and which ones were touts, so that they would know who pounce on next week.

Meantime, riot police, who made me delete the photo of them I had taken, I parked out of sight, by Africa Unity Square, two roads away from Roadport. They are obviously on standby for any recurrence of yesterday;s disturbances.

I will keep you posted, seeing as our offices are just round the corner from the scene of action itself.


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