The move last week by the government to ground all kombis that are not registered under the Zupco franchise and to impound private vehicles found carrying passengers is a recipe for disaster.
Thousands of commuters were stranded in Harare on Thursday and Friday following the heavy clampdown. The situation on streets and bus termini was riotous as commuters jostled for the few available buses while police rode rough shod on private vehicles that sought to help out the crisis.
Scores of vehicles were impounded, their owners arrested while passengers were made to pay fines of $2 000 each for hiking.
The logic behind this government move to cripple commuter movement in towns is difficult to understand. There were lame excuses proffered earlier in the week by police, citing carjacking and robberies as reasons, but nobody believed that hogwash.
The government, through information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana, yesterday tried to wash this massive blunder with a nebulous apology on social media, but he too did not sound convinced by his own statement.
There would be nothing wrong in government controlling the public transport system if they could put in place an efficient and reliable public transport system.
What is wrong is for the government to seize a fleet of rickety old buses from their private owners and forcibly tying them to a controversial transport franchise and in an arrangement that disadvantages the private owners.
What is worse is for government to proceed to give that franchise an unfair monopoly of urban transportation even when it does not have the capacity to deliver. The result is the obtaining chaos being witnessed in urban centres countrywide.
The government should have ensured capacity to provide adequate transport before taking this senseless, brutal and provocative move.
There was absolutely no need to rush through this brainless decision. Nothing had happened to drive any sane mind into this dim-witted idea which has benefited nobody, but the corrupt police system.
In a normal society, an investigation would immediately be launched to establish the source of this monstrosity and heads would have begun to roll. You don’t throw thousands to citizens into this needless crisis and danger and then get away with it with nothing more than Mangwana’s sterile apology.
We urge president Emmerson Mnangagwa to get down to the bottom of this matter and take decisive action. Putting together crowds of thousands of frustrated and angry citizens courting trouble.
A small spark in a restive crowd could degenerate into an unmanageable fireball. The mood in the country at the moment is not at its best and it would not take much for spontaneous disquiet to erupt.
Even for Zimbabweans that are known for their big hearts and tolerance, survival instinct always has the last word.