Don’t use vendors as pawns

THURSDAY’S meeting between Zanu PF national chairperson Oppah Muchinguri, who was representing President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Harare vendors, was a shameless attempt to railroad the hard-pressed hawkers into voting for the ruling party’s presidential candidate in Monday’s crucial elections.

For too long, the Zanu PF regime has abused vendors for its own ends. The timing of this particular meeting was quite ironic. Vendors constitute a large chunk of Zimbabweans who have been frustrated by Zanu PF, from being reduced into vending when they are qualified professionals to being harassed both by central government and local authorities across the country in the course of earning a living.

These are people who have become too used to Zanu PF promises during election periods, but the drill has always continued soon after — until the next election.

They should now refuse to be used as mere pawns. Come Monday, they should exercise their right and vote for people who will ensure that their academic qualifications become useful once more.

These people need lasting economic solutions that will spiral down to an improvement in their own welfare, rather than flexible cash-lending facilities and other such “sweeteners” that Zanu PF is offering them.

The low turn out at the meeting was, in fact, a clear demonstration that these astute citizens cannot continue to be used for the fatcats’ political convenience.

If this meeting was an apolitical gathering or a pseudo campaign ahead of the polls, why were the ruling party presidential candidate’s campaign posters and fliers all over the venue?

These are the same people who, for many years, have been victims of government-initiated efforts to flush them off the streets in various clean up campaigns.

All these promises to build trading stalls for vendors have become tired and if the government — or Zanu PF — is sincere, they would have long built such infrastructure, and would have been campaigning by demonstration an indisputable track record. But these, as usual, are just empty promises and nothing more.

It is very ironic that turncoat Sten Zvorwadza would pamper the vendors by describing them as “the backbone of this country” when all along they had been treated as vermin by the very same people still in Mnangagwa’s government.

Informal traders should read between the lines and refuse to be treated as pawns to achieve some selfish individual’s parochial political interests. They must go out and vote for the future and treatment they want on Monday.


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