By Sij Ncube
HARARE, July 10 – THE Public media has come out in full support of the violent eviction of vendors in the country’s cities and major towns in what appears to be a government sanctioned scotched-earth tactic.
But hawkers in the capital on Friday defiantly returned to their stalls, setting the stage for a highly explosive encounter with authorities.
It was business as usual on the city’s pavements as vendors hawked their wares, tomatoes and other green vegetables despite the previous day Harare municipal police, supported by other state law enforcement agents, forcibly removing informal traders from the central business district, arresting about 30 hawkers allegedly for public violence and assaults in the proceed.
Those who had their stalls turned upside down on Thursday hovered around with their wares at hand in preparation of setting up shop, in a clear defiance of the government crackdown.
But in a seemingly choreographed act, the public media run editorials and stories supporting the eviction of vendors despite the country are galloping unemployment which independent analysts estimate at over 80%.
The Herald, in its editorial, cautioned vendors who are refusing to move away from the CBD, from being used by failed politicians while Chronicle Editor Mduduzi Mathuthu intimated the vendors were MDC-T supporters, in what critics said further confirmed that the public media were an appendage of Zanu(PF).
Mathuthu, who recently was in the news after the winning Zanu(PF) candidate for Makokoba Tshinga Dube gave him and his crew cheap socks as a reward for helping him win the June 10 bye-election, ridiculed a vendor who was photographed holding a placard which read: Lets Meet 2018 Elections.
“Did (this) guy with placard ever vote Zanu-PF,”wrote Mathuthu. “Most probably not, they (Zanu PF) won’t lose sleep over his cardboard protest,” he added.
His comments were immediately “liked” by fellow state editors, Sunday Mail editor, Edmund Kudzayi, who was recently acquitted of several charges related to Baba Jukwa, and The Herald editor, Caesar Zvayi but much to the chagrin of some his followers on social media.
They accused Mathuthu and other state journalists of singing for their supper at the expense of jobless citizens being flushed out of the streets amid poverty.
Vickson Mvundla asked:”Mduduzi Mathuthu have you been convinced to this level that you now Zanu (PF) defender?”
But an unapologetic Mathuthu, probably keen to be seen to be toing the party line in the wake of the removal of his recruiter former Information and Broadcasting Services minister Professor Jonathan Moyo, said vendors were dabbling in illegal activities.
Mvundla said it was heart-touching to see multitudes of unemployed people eking out a living in the streets being flushed out by police when there were no jobs.
But Mathuthu hit-back saying unemployment was not unique to Zimbabwe, “and solutions don’t lie in law-breaking activities.”
But Mvundla charged back, pointing out that Zimbabwe’s unemployment rate at over 80% was unique, adding that “vending is the only visible ZimAsset in the country.”
But other critics mauled Mathuthu, saying he was clearly signing for his supper together with other state editors appointed by Moyo.
“Mduduzi was never like this, very sad,” commented Nhlanhla Mbambo.
“Shame on you, at least we are living honest lives, murder free, never raped and never stole from the poor. One day, a people shall be free.”
Velephini Thuthani Ndlovu said it was so sad to hear the Chronicle editor defending Zanu PF tactics “but again you (Mathuthu) are now part of the propaganda machinery.”
Luke Tamborinyoka, the spokesperson for MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai who worked at old Daily News with Mathuthu, chipped in.
“Singing just for his supper is inadequate. Mdu is singing for breakfast, lunch and a three-course dinner,” said Tamborinyoka.
Others reminded him of Tshinga Dube’s reward. “Mdu is even receiving socks from Colonel Tshinga Dube, is it that bad gentlemen? LOL. “