ANTI-RIOT police swooped on motor spare dealers in Harare central business district (CBD) Friday morning making arbitrary arrests on registered shop owners, Zim Morning Post can report.

The anti-riot police swarmed Kaguvi street bundling registered shop owners into their truck under the pretext that they are violating COVID-19 induced lockdown regulations.

The street is known for the infamous ‘middlemen’ who sell spares to motorists from the pavement, but the police made blanket arrests.

The police was acting alone without the collaborative efforts or presence of Harare Municipality Police who have the mandate to enforce shop licences.

This reporter witnessed the ambush and interestingly, most of these ‘arrested’ traders returned to their shops a few minutes later and revealed that they were asked to part with US$5 ‘protection fee’.

Some passers-by wearing masks and required documentation were also caught in the dragnet, en-route to their work stations.

The street (Kaguvi) was left looking like pale shadow of itself as most shops (including registered) , temporarily closed in fear of parting with the ‘protection fee’ which translates to roughly ZWL 250 on the black markert.

On May 16, President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced the continuation of Level 2 of the lock-down and categorically stated that registered businesses which have been allowed to continue operating will now be able to work between 8 a.m. and 4.30 p.m., compared with the six-hour day imposed previously.

“Zimbabwe will… continue on the level two lockdown for an indefinite period. The country needs to ease out of the lockdown in a strategic and gradual manner,” Mnangagwa said in a live broadcast.

The President said informal street markets, where millions of Zimbabweans formed a vibrant sector through commodity broking and vending will remain shut while the government consults health experts on appropriate re-opening strategy.

Police spokesperson Paul Nyathi could not be reached to comment on the ‘Kaguvi operation’, that excluded all the other streets that houses businesses of similar nature.

His line was busy at the time of writing.

-Zim Morning Post

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