The government has unleashed a Joint Operations Command (JOC) – comprising the military‚ police‚ prisons and Central Intelligence Organisation – to get vendors off the streets in a bid to contain the spread of the disease. There is a heavy anti-riot police presence in the capital city which has seen running battles between vendors and law enforcers. The Harare city council said the operation was undertaken in the “interest of public health.”
Mavis Sibanda‚ a widow who survives by selling fruit and vegetables in the high-density residential area of Kuwadzana‚ one of the most affected parts of Harare‚ has been forced to resort to selling sweets.
“I understand the situation because I live in this community. However‚ my livelihood can’t just end like that. I will sell these small things until the situation normalises‚” she said.
Business is at an all-time low for farm produce sold at Mbare Musika and Mbare Magaba‚ the city’s main informal trading markets. A trader‚ speaking on condition of anonymity‚ said he was contemplating transporting his produce elsewhere.
“Right now I am told there is a shortage of tomatoes in areas such as Bulawayo and I am stuck with perishables in Harare. Although it could pose a risk‚ if I don’t act fast I will go out of business‚” he said.
Bulawayo is yet to record any cholera cases after tests on suspected patients returned negative.