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‘Of Mbuya Nehanda, public clean ups, dog and bicycle taxes – puerile attempts by MDC to mimic ZANU PF’

By Tendai Chabvuta

The last few weeks have revealed worrying trends about the way the MDC thinks or is failing to strategically endear itself to the populace in Zimbabwe. The party seems bent on mimicking ZANU PF and unfortunately doing it so badly that it is at worst embarrassing and at most comical.

Tendai Chabvuta
Tendai Chabvuta

There are a number of issues that have to do with the accusations of corruption through illegal land deals by MDC officials in Councils, the poor state of Zimbabwe’s roads – those run by city councils, failure to collect garbage and other softer issues like failing to appeal to Zimbabweans’ psyche through the celebration of what Zimbabweans believe in.

Mbuya Nehanda is a Zimbabwean hero who cannot be ignored come what may

The first issue is on the Mbuya Nehanda statue which ZANU PF ran with and successfully managed to launch. Call the statue names, call the strategy by ZANU PF to put up the structure strategic and what have you, what is clear is that the issue of Mbuya Nehanda, other past heroines and heroes raises deep emotions for Zimbabweans and one believes should still do the same for the millennials.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa unveils a statue in Harare of Mbuya Nehanda, a spirit medium who led the uprising against European settlers. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA
President Emmerson Mnangagwa unveils a statue in Harare of Mbuya Nehanda, a spirit medium who led the uprising against European settlers. Photograph: Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

The MDC has been running most of the city councils for years since the time of Morgan Tsvangirai. The failure and worse still refusal to identify with the country’s “software” and what makes people in the rural areas and freedom conscious Zimbabweans is what makes the MDC fail to realize the importance of such national icons as Mbuya Nehanda and how they could join the nation in commemorating its national heroes, women and others who fought hard to wrestle Zimbabwe from the racist colonial regime.

ZANU PF grabbed the issue and ran with it to the top. That the money used for the statue could have been used to feed starving Zimbabweans is neither here nor there. It is an argument that is dishonest and does not serve any useful purpose.

Feeling left out by the dancing ZRP cops – Harare City Council deploys its own traffic cops

On 1 June, on its twitter handle, the City of Harare noted that “Civilians not allowed to control traffic. Law will take its course against such behavior”. This would sound logical if the traffic lights ever worked in the Sunshine City. Half the traffic lights in Harare do not work.

In most instances, there are huge traffic snarl ups and it is a nightmare to get in or out of the city center during the morning and evening rush hours. Street kids have been the star saviors in solving this problem as they have been directing traffic and ensuring that traffic moves and is cleared in most instances.

Recently, the ZRP started deploying its “dancing traffic cops” who have also been doing a sterling job in easing the congestion and logjams at traffic intersections. Feeling all left out, abandoned, and left with egg on the face, the Harare City Council has also started deploying its own traffic police alongside the ZRP traffic cops. Honestly, MDC? What a waste of resources and a clear sign of lack of strategy and poor attempt at mimicking ZANU PF.

Harare City Council gone to the dogs?

On 1 June, twitter was awash with posts from an account run by the MDC led Harare City Council noting that “Council is now collecting dog licenses from city dog owners”.

Judging from the ferocious comments from twimbos it is clear that the move was more like a foot in mouth and not thoroughly thought out policy move. The call for the dog tax was beyond amateurish and one that would only alienate supporters from the MDC. It is not as if the electorate is blind and does not know that the MDC is the one running the City Councils.

On the dog tax issue, one would wonder what exactly the City Council is doing for residents with regards vaccinations and the control of stray dogs.

If the City Council is not running any dog shelters or carrying out any vaccination programs in Harare’s environs, one would wonder if they were reintroducing the “tax” so that they can “reintroduce” the services or they are just a bunch of losers who are looking for new revenue streams. It is a case of the Council’s best brains gone to the dogs really.

Tax freedom for cycling or punishment – which way for Harare City Council?

Then on to the issue of bicycle license fees. In a city whose roads are potholed left right and centre and probably the best way one can save themselves from hefty tyre repair and replacement costs is by riding a bicycle, the City Council came up with a “not so brilliant” idea of taxing cyclists.

There is no denial that these taxes used to be there and their collection could have fallen through the cracks over the years. However, if the MDC were a party of the future as they purport to be, one would think that instead they would be pushing for a tax exemption for all those who were riding bicycles in the city. One would think that by now the City Health’s Department would have been encouraging more residents to ride bikes for better health.

But wait, ride bikes on what cycle tracks? There are no cycle tracks and thus one of the most dangerous and suicidal escapades a person can do in Harare is to ride a bike on the city’s roads. So if the infrastructure is not even there, why would the city council push for such? The MDC seems to be lost in its strategy here.

But ED already is already cleaning up the country’s streets: How about the MDC collects the rubbish?

On 28 May there was a huge furor in Harare’s Mabvuku suburb where the “Tsvaira/Thanyela Zimbabwe campaign” was being launched. However, it is a well known fact that “every first Friday of each calendar month is a National Clean-Up Day” and this was launched by President Mnangagwa in 2018. The MDC can do what it wants with its resources including time but the mimicking is just on another level. So much for originality, strategic and forward looking policy making. I rest my case.

The MDC and its councilors have lost it completely

The MDC could do better in terms of strategy and be more proactive in show in leadership in how it runs the Harare City Council. The 1 June downpour of threatening tweets seemed to have been coming from an intern who thought that they had found somewhere to play and exhibit their typing or social media skills. It will not work.

The party needs to be able to reads the city and country’s soul first before engaging in such childish activities that will inevitably alienate its supporters. Erecting Mbuya Nehanda’s statue or any other liberation war heroes or heroines from the 1st or 2nd Chimurenga would have done the trick. Leave the whole “we do not believe in Mashave rhetoric” – It does not work in Zimbabwe.

People are Christians but they also still believe in their ancestors and heroes such as Mbuya Nehanda and Sekuru Kaguvi. Denying this will only leave ZANU PF taking the limelight all the way.

The bicycle and dog taxes – well … to be honest that is just nonsensical jibing from a clueless leadership that cannot separate what is critical and what is to be prioritized in a high stakes City such as Harare. The MDC must stop trying to mimic ZANU PF and worse still following in ZANU PF’s footsteps thinking they will get accolades for such.

You can follow Tendai Chabvuta on his blog

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