Wednesday, July 06, 2016

ZIMBABWE HERALD EDITORIAL: Decisive, Lasting Solution on Touts Needed
July 6, 2016
Zimbabwe Herald

WE hail the police for effectively clamping down on rowdy touts and rank marshals who have been terrorising motorists and pedestrians in and around the city.

Though touting is illegal, it is amazing how these touts and rank marshals have been left to flourish even in the face of clear evidence of sexual harassment of innocent women some of whom have been publicly stripped for daring to wear what they want.

It is thus hardly surprising that the touts, who have appointed themselves the moral police, had the nerve to challenge the police on Monday as they have been left to believe they are above the law.

These people, who are not only foul mouthed, but are disposed to violence to get their way, have become a law unto themselves on city streets and terminuses where they charge public transporters for picking up passengers on areas they have declared their fiefdoms.

We urge the police to go a step further and rescue motorists from the self-appointed parking attendants who have parcelled city parking bays between themselves and charge motorists for using the bays, prejudicing the city of thousands of dollars in potential revenue through parking scams.

While the City has its own parking attendants, it is surprising that city fathers still leave some self-proclaimed parking attendants to apportion themselves a share of the parking bays.

The police and city fathers are nursing a cancer which will one day seek to consume them, it is better to do what is done with all cancers, nip the situation in the bud.

Motorists have no choice though, as they are forced to pay lest the self-appointed attendants do something to the car to force compliance and this has inadvertently taken the form of scratching the paint work or deflating the tyres.

Both the scores of touts and rank marshals who were arrested on charges of public violence and the over-grown street adults who have appointed themselves parking attendants are guilty of the same crime, extorting money from the public for what they do not own.

These two groups daily make the lives of road users a living hell.

Ironically, municipal police officers have been content to look the other side instead of ridding the city of these unsavoury individuals.

It is not uncommon to see municipal police officers clamping vehicles without parking discs while leaving these touts to their devices.

It appears it has not even dawned on the city fathers that the money being pocketed by these touts and rank marshals, would go a long way in boosting the city’s revenue.

Apart from being a nuisance to road users, the touts are also hitting the city in the pocket.

My Turn: How MDC-T tried to steal a kombi ‘war’

July 6, 2016
Tichaona Zindoga

ON Monday, Zimbabwe (and the world) woke up to a “war” between police and crews of commuter omnibuses in three routes in eastern Harare, namely Ruwa, Mabvuku/Tafara and Epworth.

The enmity between these transport operators and law enforcement agents, including local municipal officers is well documented.

In fact, the two sides play what can be called a cat-and-mouse game, which at times has turned fatal with, especially, pedestrians and innocent civilians being caught in the crossfire.

So, ordinarily, a clash like the one that erupted on Monday, which emanated from one rank — the Fourth Street Bus Terminus — should not have raised an eyebrow, though a spectacle it could provide.

However, the spectacle provided a major talking point on Monday and dominated headlines through a mis-framing of it as a political uprising.

It was not.

It was an industrial action by public transport operators unhappy with the proliferation of “too many” police roadblocks.

Many road users have expressed similar concerns about the number of police roadblocks with some so interspersed that one would think that there is an ongoing security situation in the country.

We all have been upset by that.

Kombi crews are bound to feel the heat, given their daily routines and interaction with police some of whom are bent on extorting crews and demanding bribes.

All this has been said before.

We all have witnessed it with something between disgust and horror.

The police have more than once been forced to come to their defence.

Now, when kombi crews of a particular area decide to collectively demonstrate their unhappiness by withdrawing their services and hoodlums and criminals go on to hijack that cause, it shouldn’t be a big surprise.

We have been down that road before and these occasional flare ups, whether instigated by police mounting blitzes on unroadworthy and unlicensed vehicles or by kombi crews themselves for one reason or the other.

Yet on Monday, there were some people trying to tell us that this traditional dispute between police and kombis was political and signalled a “winter of discontent”.

Some opposition elements were posting pictures and statements on social media apparently revelling at the unfolding drama which they thought was the beginning of violent nationwide protests.

The MDC-T officially jumped into the fray with the party’s spokesman Obert Gutu and secretary general Douglas Mwonzora convening a rash press conference in Harare urging their supporters to join in the war between kombis and police.

Gutu said: “As MDC we have absolutely no shame to say here and now, that we fully support all the peaceful demonstrations that disgruntled Zimbabweans have since embarked upon.

“As the situation deteriorates in Zimbabwe, we stand in support of any exercise of their rights in line with the dictates of the Constitution, which gives us the right to demonstrate.

“We, in the MDC support any sector that is embarking in peaceful demonstrations. As a party, we urge all our members, to join any legitimate demonstration that is meant to bring pressure on this regime.

“On our part, as MDC we shall continue to mobilise Zimbabweans against this Government, which must resign because it has failed the people of Zimbabwe.”

You couldn’t miss the opportunism displayed by the party.

The party has been calling for what it calls mass action for the better part of the past two years since their convincing defeat at the hands of Zanu-PF in elections of 2013.

Their attempts to canvass popular uprising has gone unheeded, even though the party has conducted rallies in virtually every town and district in the last two years.

In Harare alone the party has had several meetings, including political rallies disguised as prayer meetings and have tried to use the alleged disappearance of one Itai Dzamara, a journalist-turned-opposition activist.

A rally was held in March, in Harare, to “commemorate” the first anniversary of the alleged disappearance.

The organisers, especially the MDC-T itself, hoped that this gathering would lead to a violent confrontation with authorities and “martyrdom” of the said Dzamara.

It was on that day when Morgan Tsvangirai, the opposition leader, came up with an incredible story of how the supposedly heroic Dzamara was about to expose how elections were “rigged” in 2013.

He said: “I know Itai was somebody who was very knowledgeable about how the 2013 election were (sic) rigged. He told me, and we cannot accept this, especially me.

“I witnessed the abductions of people in 2008 . . . We demand that this government returns Dzamara, whether dead or alive, so that there is closure on this emotive issue.”

After so much going to town about the Dzamara saga, it was apparent that the party had exhausted its political capital on the issue, without anything to trigger an uprising — it was time to move on.

Then came rallies with what Obert Gutu called “mother of all rallies” in Harare on April 14 which did not usher “red revolution” as the capital went about its business not too keen on the histrionics of the opposition party.

That was the day, of course, that Tsvangirai — billed to “lead from the front” only managed to address for no more than FOUR minutes due to poor health which has now debilitated his well-being and possible prospects at the helm of the party.

The party tried to follow up with “nationwide protests” in Bulawayo and Mutare, but they lost the sting due to the leader’s indisposition — not that it mattered anyway.

Then came the protests in Beitbridge last week, over import restriction of certain non essential goods.

The protests were allegedly kick-started by some South African companies who seek to perpetuate Zimbabwe’s over-dependence on South African goods, even when this has had a deleterious impact on Zimbabwe’s economy.

The opposition has been rubbing its hands in glee over what it thinks is a beginning of violent season, which it has hoped for a long time.

Yet the truth is, the opposition does not own the narrative of Zimbabwe and if any group or groups decide on any democratic action — including the constitutionally guaranteed action to demonstrate and petition Government — it must not hijack and poison genuine concerns of the people.

It is then critical that a keen eye be trained on the opposition seeking to cause mayhem to gain political mileage and legitimacy it long lost with the people as expressed in democratic processes such as the elections of 2013.

Mujuru defends riotous behaviour

July 6, 2016
Herald Reporter

ZIMBABWE People First leader Dr Joice Mujuru has joined her compatriots in the opposition ranks supporting hooligans who engaged in violent activities that affected parts of Harare and Beitbridge.

On Monday, MDC-T spokesperson Mr Obert Gutu praised the hooligans, adding that his party was in support of the violence.

Addressing journalists at her residence in Harare yesterday, Dr Mujuru said people had a constitutional right to demonstrate.

“Police should protect the demonstrators, the demonstrators are the people, don’t forget those demonstrators are government, that the police and other security agents should be protecting,” she said.

“I am sure we heard from ZimEye the message from Commissioner General (Dr Augustine Chihuri) himself when he was cautioning (the police) that they should not do what is not necessary because they are dealing with people who are angry.

“Theirs is just to keep peace not to start problems.

“Some of the brutalities which they are showing are not supposed to be started at all,” she said.

“So you can imagine, even the Commissioner General himself is looking forward to a peaceful demonstration hence we are also calling for a peaceful demonstration.”

Dr Mujuru, however, did not mention that some of the people whom she referred to as peaceful demonstrators brutally attacked two police officers in Epworth on Monday.

She claimed that the demonstrations were evidence that people were not happy with Government. As such, she said President Mugabe, who was resoundingly elected in 2013 should step down and call for fresh elections.

Dr Mujuru, who served for two terms as Vice President, condemned Government for import controls saying the local industry was failing to meet demand.

She gave a long list of known problems affecting the country, but failed to pronounce how her party intended to address them.

She did not rule out a possibility of a coalition with the MDC-T ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections.

War vets, churches censure violence

July 6, 2016
Takunda Maodza and Fidelis Munyoro

War veterans and church leaders yesterday strongly condemned the violence that engulfed parts of Harare on Monday and Beitbridge last Friday, saying only dialogue should be used to resolve challenges facing the nation.

The call for peace came as civic society organisations sought to blame Government for causing violence against evidence that rowdy elements destroyed property worth thousands of dollars in Beitbridge last Friday and on Monday stoned vehicles in Ruwa and Epworth, forcing the police to intervene to restore sanity.

Addressing a Press conference in Harare yesterday, Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association secretary for information and publicity Cde Douglas Mahiya, urged political parties to dissuade their members from participating in any violent activities that threaten people’s lives, destroy property and promote looting during demonstrations.

“We, as the bedrock on which the Independence of this country is built, would like to put it clear to all sectors of society that while it is a constitutional right for disgruntled people to voice their dissatisfaction through demonstrations, it is not their right to infringe upon other innocent people’s rights through destruction of their property, forcing anybody to commit acts of looting or anything that results in any confrontation with law enforcers,” he said.

Cde Mahiya said religious leaders should urge their members to engage in prayer and fasting for God to intervene.

“All people with influence over any sizeable groups of people should use their influence to avert any forms of escalation of violence,” he said.

The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations also added its voice yesterday, calling on all stakeholders to meet and map a way forward.

“As the church, we strongly believe that sustained dialogue provides the pathway towards resolving any challenges that we currently face. It provides the basis for peaceful engagement while respecting the diversity of all Zimbabweans,” said the ZHCD.

“We hereby make an appeal for all concerned stakeholders to come together and agree to a commonly shared approach to the challenges that we are facing and enduring as a nation. We believe that everyone wants a Zimbabwe that is peaceful, prosperous and united.

“This is a Kiros moment for the nation to come together as one, be of one accord, with one mind and one spirit that of building the Zimbabwe we want. We say NO to violence! No to the destruction of property! No to the loss of life!”

The ZHCD comprises the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference, Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe.

The ZHCD appealed for restraint and tolerance, but underscored the need for people to respect the law.

“Citizens must air grievances using the frameworks provided by the law,” said ZHCD.

Rowdy elements orchestrated a violent campaign which left property that included a Zimbabwe Revenue Authority warehouse destroyed in Beitbridge.

They ran riot blocking roads and looting shops, scenes that were repeated in Epworth, Mabvuku and other areas in Harare on Monday.

In Harare, rowdy elements disguised as kombi operators stoned vehicles, barricaded roads and attacked police deployed to restore order. The MDC-T came out in full support of the riotous behaviour of the demonstrators and called for more.

Civic society yesterday claimed the demonstrations were peaceful and apportioned blame on Government.

In a joint statement, they claimed: “As civic society we condemn in the strongest of terms the use of violence as a response to ordinary citizens airing their grievances with Government.”

They went on to sing the old hymn — urging the police “to cease use of violence on peaceful protesters” and that the State must uphold “the rule of law and respect human rights”.

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