Harare - Hundreds of street vendors protested in Zimbabwe's capital on Wednesday against plans to drive them off pavements in the city, where increasing numbers of the unemployed are trying to make a living.
Zimbabwe's collapsing economy has forced many companies to close, leaving redundant workers, school leavers and college graduates turning to petty trading on the streets.
Local authorities gave the vendors until June 26 to remove their stalls in the city centres and set up elsewhere, with a warning that force could be used if they resist.
Protesting vendors brandished placards and sang as they marched to parliament to present a petition against their eviction.
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"The petition is imploring the government to come to terms with the fact that our economy is ailing and since our economy is ailing, removing the symptoms will not solve the problem," said Justice Manayi, secretary of National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe.
"They [government] have failed to solve the problem of the economy, they have to create employment for the masses of Zimbabwe.
"No-one chooses to be a vendor in Zimbabwe. We have got graduates on the streets. All they want is employment."
The vendors were unfazed by the heavy presence of police forming a human barricade to prevent the traders from getting too close to the parliament building as their leaders handed in the petition.