By Tarisai Machakaire
He has had a brush with law enforcement agents and has been banned from getting anywhere near Rainbow Towers Hotel after leading protests against Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko’s continued stay in the presidential suite of the hotel, yet Sten Zvorwadza seems undeterred.
On June 26, Zvorwadza grabbed a unique moment of activism and began shouting on top of his voice in the hotel lobby that Mphoko should vacate the premises “immediately”.
He was apprehended by police and led away.
But despite being hauled before the courts on charges of threats to commit malicious damage to property, Zvorwadza is defiant, insisting he will not stop his protest.
“We are going to stage more demonstrations next week hatisi kuzomira kusvika abuda. As progressive citizens we were actually angered to hear that he has been ‘temporarily’ moved out of that suite to pave way for a visiting president meaning that he will return there anytime,”Zvorwadza said.
On Wednesday, Mphoko was reportedly asked to vacate the presidential suite to pave way for visiting Sierra Leone President Ernest Bai Koroma.
“We gave him a seven-day ultimatum and next week we will resume our demonstrations, this time at his offices Munhumutapa Building,” Zvorwadza vowed.
“After we would have succeeded to have him kicked out of the hotel, we are going to sit down as citizens and decide if we still want him as vice president.
“…if he has such spending tendencies, imagine what would become of this country if he was to become president.”
Zvorwadza has been on Mphoko’s case ever since it was disclosed that the VP was residing in the hotel on taxpayers’ money.
“Last year, we staged a peaceful demonstration three months after he had checked into Sheraton (now Rainbow Towers) Hotel. We allowed time to lapse thinking that he would come to his senses but realised he still needed other people to whip him into line,” Zvorwadza told the Daily News on Sunday.
“We pray that Mphoko, one of these days, will learn to appreciate that our concerns are his concerns and that we will not allow him to empty our fiscus when our economy is in a coma.
“All this is not for me or him, but for generations to come and he should participate to restore sanity for those not yet born.”
The National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe chairperson, whose political career began with Zanu PF in the 1980s, said the emergence of MDC in the late 90’s gave him hope that a second independence could be attained in the country.
“When Zanu PF rigged the elections, I did a post-mortem of my past and decided to quit mainstream politics and concentrate on civil work,” he said.
“Zimbabwe is on record of having failed to achieve reforms and from now on we are determined as citizens to have such reforms achieved on the streets than in boardrooms. A practical outcome has to be seen in real life.”
Quizzed on whether he feared the fate of missing activist Itai Dzamara would befall him, Zvorwadza did not seem moved at all.
“I do not fear for the worst to happen because I am not driven by any force greater than the will of God. There was an attempt on my life on February 28, weeks after Dzamara had been abducted but it failed.
“…ever since then, I believe that rogue elements could by now have realised that abducting people is not really a solution for them.
“On that day, I recall that it was on the 93km peg on the Chegutu to Harare highway when two men who were driving a twin cab pulled off their car in front of mine and threatened me with guns.
“I screamed, it was dramatic, until other motorists came to my rescue. I believe that you are no good as a dead hero and am ready to die for my conviction and ideology that Zimbabwe one day must be a free country having realised a true second independence.”
Part of Zvorwadza’s work in activism includes the formation of Restoration of Human Rights (ROHR) in 2007 aimed at tackling the brutality of State security on citizens and failed policies of the government.
In 2008, he pioneered the formation of Zimbabwe Vendors Association and later National Vendors Union Zimbabwe in 2014.
“In years between 2003 and 2013, Zanu PF trumped up charges against me but lost all of them. It actually inspired me and I will not be discouraged by intimidation or torture,” said Zvorwadza.
“It is not that I expect any form of political power but just want Zimbabweans to realise that there is strength in unity and that no qualification is needed to participate in the governance of our country.”
Zvorwadza’s political career began at a tender age and he recalls attending the inauguration of then Prime Minister Robert Mugabe.
Having been raised in a royal family, Zvorwadza breathed politics from birth and speaks of other influential politicians that stemmed from his family — the Chiweshe lineage.
“I grew up in a royal family and you know it is natural to speak for the voiceless across the political divide. To demonstrate that it runs in the blood, I will talk of Pauline Zvorwadza who sits on the highest board in Zanu PF, Theresa Makoni a senior MDC member, my late brother Paddington who was the first MP in Rushinga in the 1980’s.
“I believe that one day our nation will achieve equal land redistribution, poverty reduction and eradicate all forms of repression and suppression.” Daily News