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Vendors pile pressure on Grace

THE Zimbabwe Informal Sector’s Organisation (Ziso) says it is still preparing to take First Lady Grace Mugabe to court over her pronouncement that she had been given the greenlight to dish out confiscated vendors’ wares to Zanu PF supporters.

BY XOLISANI NCUBE

The organisation made the threat two weeks ago after the First Lady made the announcement at a rally in Zvimba.

Ziso director Promise Mkwananzi told The Standard on Friday that they had given council 14 days to prove that the confiscated goods were still in their possession and that they were not donated to anyone for free.

Grace told Zanu PF supporters at Murombedzi in Zvimba during a Zanu PF Women’s League rally that Zimra and council had given her the go ahead to donate bales of second-hand clothing that were confiscated at border posts to her supporters.

“Council is yet to prove to us that the goods which they confiscated are in their possession and that they did not give them to anyone.

However, if they fail to do so, we will go to court. We have given them 14 days to do so. Once the time-frame given expires, we will take the matter to court,” Mkwananzi said.

“We will question the law being applied by the authorities, as well as the law they used to dispose vendors’ goods to the First Lady. If second-hand clothes are banned products, they must not be used by anyone, whether they are purchased or donated. From our understanding, the ban was on health grounds, so why expose people to diseases? The
move by the First Lady has the potential of encouraging people to venture into corrupt practices within the informal sector using her name,” he said.

Stan Zvorwadza, the chairperson of the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz), said the utterances by the First Lady were “a sham, and should be condemned”.

“As a union, we now believe this government abuses vendors. We have engaged council to establish whether the goods
which the First Lady donated belonged to our vendors. If it is proven true, then we will drag the local authority to court to ensure that there is accountability and transparency in the manner council handles people’s goods” he said.

Some of the affected vendors spoke to The Standard last week and expressed outrage at the First Lady’s claims.

“I will never forgive police officers who on July 25 rendered me a useless mother who can’t feed her family,”
40-year-old Brenda Kufakunesu said.

She had been fending for her family through the sale of second- hand clothes. A bitter Kufakunesu said the sale of second-hand clothes had kept her three children in school, adding that council was being cruel. She said the pain of watching her goods being taken away broke her heart.

She said the saddest part was being told that three of the second- hand clothes bales she had imported from Mozambique could be part of the goods the First Lady said she would donate to her supporters.

“We suffer and risk our lives as we go to Mozambique, only for someone to take our sweat to her supporters in order to appear like Mother Theresa. It is very wrong,” she said.

Kufakunesu’s plight is shared by over 170 000 vendors who were displaced and lost their goods worth $579 239 after they were confiscated by municipal police.

“If I get an opportunity to meet the First Lady, I will ask her how she would feel if she were in my position. I will ask her as a mother, how she feels seeing hundreds of people crossing the country’s borders to buy second
hand clothes when as a country we could have made our economy better,” she said.

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