6 December 2017

Zimbabwe: Mnangagwa Has Betrayed the Zimbabwean People - PDP

THE opposition People's Democratic Party (PDP) has condemned the government's decision unleash soldiers on vendors and commuter transport operators in Harare.

Led by former finance minister Tendai Biti, the party accused President Emmerson Mnangagwa of betraying the thousands of Zimbabweans who marched in support of the military intervention which helped him assume power.

Mnangagwa took over power last month after the military helped topple former President Robert Mugabe who had led the country since independence in 1980.

The coup was supported by thousands of Zimbabweans who took to the streets backing the military Generals and protesting Mugabe's attempt to hold onto power.

According to PDP, when Zimbabweans, including vendors, marched against Mugabe, they had hoped that whoever succeeded the 93-year-old would create jobs and a better working environment for small businesses to operate.

Mnangagwa, the party said, had instead thrown away the opportunity "to restart, rethink and reconfigure".

"Sadly, the deployment of soldiers against the vendors today (Monday) is a betrayal of that narrative. Power in democratic societies is based on persuasion as an instrument to rally the citizen behind you," the party said in a statement.

The military announced last weekend that it would embark on a joint blitz with the police to clear the streets of Harare of vendors and touts, in a development that has angered many Zimbabweans who now survive on vending due to high levels of unemployment in the country.

Until the army takeover a few weeks ago, vendors had been involved in cat and mouse battles with the authorities after former President Mugabe called for their removal, describing them as a filthy menace in the capital.

"The past 37 years have been dominated by tear gas, guns and baton sticks as instruments of persuasion. Sadly, those who took over from President Mugabe today displayed that they are unwilling to change," said PDP.

"The people of Zimbabwe who marched on the 18th of November 2017, wished to have the absence of a police state as a permanent feature of our society, this is what opening a new chapter entails. In less than a fortnight the new administration has misinterpreted the dislike of a police state for a desire for a military state."

The opposition party said deployment of soldiers on vendors and the appointment of questionable characters in cabinet was a sign that the new administration wanted to maintain the status quo left by Mugabe.

Instead, the new administration should have used latest developments to lay a foundation for "an irrevocable path to sustainability, 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 President Mugabe, this is 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."


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