Staff writer | MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday said the ongoing demolitions of illegal structures by government was a signal for the people of Zimbabwe to say enough is enough and converge to rescue themselves from “oppression”.
The government last week destroyed illegal structures in Harare under heavy police presence. At the weekend, police blocked all roads leading to Mbare and government, working with the municipal police demolished structures in Mbare, including those in the Mupedzanhamo flea market area where hundreds of informal traders have been operating from.
Chamisa yesterday told NewsDay that the demolitions were “heartless and brutal”. “They don’t even make an effort to create jobs and when people try to survive peacefully and patriotically, they go after them. It is cruel, heartless, irresponsible and incapable leadership. Central government is inflicting terror on the people while putting on the mask of the city council,” Chamisa said.
He said the “brutality and barbarism” by the government was a call for people to converge. “We can get angry and condemn this, but the issue is it is now time for people’s convergence to end all this. It is no longer about political parties when our humanity and dignity is under attack. There is no better time to converge than now. People can’t wait for any other signal. The oppressors are giving us a signal. This is a call for citizens to converge and a new consensus to save ourselves. You cannot finish poverty by finishing the poor.”
The MDC Alliance leader said government was not serious about dealing with people’s concerns, including creating employment.
“That is the problem when the government is a Twabam government and does not care about its own people. Never expect serious leadership from a Twabam government that plays comedy with people’s lives. People are suffering and crying for help, yet you continue inflicting more pain. It’s a pity we don’t control that. If our people’s mayor (Jacob Mafume) and people’s councillors were there and not recalled, we would have ordered them to stop this madness.
“It is not wise for authorities to provoke people. It’s not always that provocation will not get a reply, one day it will get a reply. It is not right and why always target May, June and July? Murambatsvina (2005) was around this time; demolitions last were also around this time as if it is demonic and cultic that you have to inflict pain during this period of time when it is winter.”In a statement, the Vendors Initiative for Social and Economic Transformation (Viset) said they would challenge the demolitions.
“We condemn the brutality we witnessed in Mbare. We continue to see violation of our right to survive and we will challenge this using all lawful means. A number of our members were affected and we witnessed looting of our merchandise and Muguti (Harare development co-ordinator Tafadzwa) should be held personally responsible for what is happening,” Viset leader Samuel Wadzai said.
“This is not what we expect from a government that claims to be representing the people.” The Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) blamed government for failing to improve the economic situation, resulting in unemployed citizens eking out a living through vending.
“While city council claims the structures were illegal, the manner of the demolitions is inhumane as it amounts to inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment which is prohibited in section 53 of the Constitution. Zimbabwe has a legacy of destroying people’s livelihoods instead of improving the lives of its citizens. In 2005, government’s Operation Murambatsvina left over 700 000 Zimbabweans homeless and without any source of livelihoods and some are still destitute up to today.”
ZimRights said the demolitions violated the rights of Mbare residents by causing air and noise pollution without warning. President Emmerson Mnangagwa has remained mum about the ongoing demolitions.