OPEN FORUM: Unleashing soldiers on vendors not wise

OPEN FORUM: Unleashing soldiers on vendors not wise
The deployment of soldiers on the streets coupled with the appointment of questionable characters back into Cabinet is a sign of the new administration’s choice to maintain coercion, corruption and capture.

The deployment of soldiers on the streets coupled with the appointment of questionable characters back into Cabinet is a sign of the new administration’s choice to maintain coercion, corruption and capture. File pic

With People’s Democratic Party

THE decision by the current administration to unleash soldiers on vendors and commuters is a bad development which must not only be condemned but must stop forthwith.
The past few weeks have been peaceful with no cat and mouse games being played in town owing to the absence of the police.
The people of Zimbabwe who marched on November 18, 2017, spoke against a police State as a permanent feature of our society; this is what opening a new chapter entails.
In his speech at a gathering convened by the Daily Maverick in South Africa on November 23, 2017, Tendai Biti said: “I hope ZANU-PF does not misinterpret what happened on the historic march.”
In less than a fortnight, the new administration has already misinterpreted the dislike of a police State for a desire for a military State.
They have misinterpreted the dislike for police brutality as a desire for military brutality.
We stated then as we do now that after the resignation of Robert Mugabe those who took over had two choices.
The first choice was to maintain the status quo with those coming in just doing so for the purposes of filling the big shoes that have been left by the former president.
The deployment of soldiers on the streets coupled with the appointment of questionable characters back into Cabinet is a sign of the new administration’s choice to maintain coercion, corruption and capture.
That the status quo must continue with the same levers of power that have dominated our society for the past 37 years is now evident.
The second option was to use the opportunity of the coup to lay a foundation of an irrevocable path to sustainability, of a stable, just, inclusive and democratic Zimbabwe in which all are free to pursue happiness. For the majority of Zimbabweans, including vendors who marched against Mugabe, this was the option they marched for.
Zimbabweans who flanked the soldiers and their tanks during the march were expressing their search for a new contract with those in power and with power itself.
Sadly the deployment of soldiers against the vendors is a betrayal of that narrative. Power in democratic societies is based on persuasion as an instrument to rally the citizens behind you.
The past 37 years have been dominated by tear gas, guns and baton sticks as instruments of persuasion.
Sadly those who took over from Mugabe have displayed that they are unwilling to change.
Reality is that they even want to make it even scarier by taking crowd management responsibility away from the police to the soldiers.
It is a reproduction of the old order with different names, characters and form. The new administration has thrown away a window of opportunity too early into their tenure.
They have missed a window of opportunity to restart, rethink and reconfigure; they have betrayed the goodwill expressed by Zimbabweans who felt that they deserve a chance.
When the vendors marched against Mugabe they were giving an opportunity to whoever would succeed him the opportunity to create jobs and create a better working environment for small businesses to operate.
It is a fundamental issue; vendors are not in the streets by choice. Anyone who has the people at heart must address the foundation not the symptoms. Everyone is agreed to the idea that the current vending arrangement is an eyesore, but there are ways to reorganise the vendors.
By the way, President Emmerson Mnangagwa there is a little town called Rosaria in Argentina with 10 times the number of vendors than those in Harare. You can send one of your subordinates there to get some lessons. The People’s Democratic Party did so in March this year.
The individual we sent is available to advise the government on how to organise vending in town, he will do this for free. If you do not change from the use of force, Zimbabweans will have no choice but to regroup, pick up the pieces and continue with the fight. –

  • Shepherd Nyathi

    After your analysis so what is the way forward because we can not continue having this chaos in our cities where pavements are full of vendors. We need order in town. You seem not to give an answer to that problem. Kindly tell us the way forward. The mantra that there are no jobs do not hold water. Lack of jobs does not mean we need chaos in our country.

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