Deploying soldiers on vendors is barbaric

4 December 2017

The decision by the current administration to deploy soldiers on vendors and commuters is a bad development which must not only be condemned but must stop forthwith.

Soldiers check a gun as they stand on an armoured vehicle parked in the central district of Harare, Zimbabwe, 16 November 2017, a day after the Zimbabwe National Army took control of the government from President Robert Mugabe on 15 November 2017. Mugabe and his family are believed to be safe at their house. The military denied it staged a coup d’etat. EPA-EFE/AARON UFUMELI

The past few weeks have been peaceful with no cat and mouse games being played in town owing to the suspension of high police presence.

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 his speech at the Gathering of the Daily Maverick in South Africa delivered on the 23rd of November 2017, President Biti said “I hope ZANUPF does not misinterpret what happened on the historic march.”

In less than a fortnight the new administration has 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 Mugabe those who took over had two choices.

The first choice is 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 President Mugabe.

The deployment of soldiers on the vendors coupled with the appointment of questionable characters back in cabinet is a sign of the new administration’s choice.

The choice to maintain coercion, corruption and capture.

That the status quo must continue with the same livers of power that have dominated our society for the past 37 years.

The second option is 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 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.

Sadly the deployment of soldiers against the vendors today is a betrayal of that narrative.

Power in democratic societies is based on persuasion as an instrument to rally the citizen 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 President Mugabe today displayed that they are unwilling to change.

Reality is that they even want to make it even scarier replacing crowd management responsibility 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 thrown away 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 government is full of people who are on foreign trips lessons could be learnt from other places as well.

By the way President Mnangagwa there is a little town called Rosaria in Argentina with ten times the number of vendors than those in Harare you can send one of yours to get lessons from there, the PDP did so in March of 2017.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.

Together Another Zimbabwe is Possible
PDP Communications