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Govt to blame for Mupedzanhamo chaos

Editorials

IT has been some years now since Harare’s most popular and populous flea market, Mupedzadzano, was closed.

The market was forced to shut down after some outlaws, who had invaded the market premises, started demanding money from traders.

The space barons, alleged to be linked to the ruling Zanu PF party, were so brazen that they elbowed the Harare City Council (HCC) out of the premises.

After the vendors, mostly second-hand clothes traders, were barred from entering the premises, they set up shop along the roads in the Mupedzanhamo area to continue eking out a living.

It was not long before the space barons followed them on the streets, demanding money from the hapless vendors for the spaces they occupy, which has now resulted in the skirmishes allegedly between Zanu PF and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) youths as reported in yesterday’s edition of NewsDay.

Meanwhile, the space barons have since annexed the Mupedzanhamo complex and turned it into a “private” car park, where they are pocketing US$1 per car as parking fees.

It is a pity that things have degenerated to such levels, whereby individuals are now so powerful to challenge local authorities and central government is not even perturbed.

HCC, which is losing thousands of dollars in revenue not only at Mupedzanhamo, but around the city, derives its authority and power from central government, and when government seems unbothered by wanton lawlessness such as the one obtaining in and around Mupedzanhamo, it is perplexing.

Honestly, any central government worth its salt would have long intervened, especially when the space barons behind the chaos are linked to the governing party.

Government should not let unscrupulous people (in the form of space barons) tarnish its image, unless it is benefiting from the miscreants’ shenanigans.

Honestly, the Mupedzanhamo chaos cannot be allowed to continue unchallenged, given that the City of Harare appears powerless to control the space barons.

The same situation is prevailing in the housing sector, where land barons have caused chaos while central government watches from a distance, completely aloof, yet it is perennially on the HCC’s case over service delivery and the mayhem in the capital.

How does government expect HCC to properly function or stamp its authority when spanners are being thrown in its works left, right and centre? What is happening at Mupedzanhamo is lawlessness at its worst and there is no way government should expect the local authority to put a stop to this anarchy, given the fact that the people at the centre of the chaos are said to be linked to the ruling party.

Zanu PF information director, Tafadzwa Mugwadi has said: “I hear its CCC members only who are causing all this violence tarnishing the image of our party. There are no Zanu PF supporters there. It’s not Zanu PF, but CCC. Our people are not violent. They are well disciplined. CCC is the one which is causing all this violence, they are also responsible for that bombing in Chinhoyi.”

As much as we would like to believe Mugwadi, we cannot because the situation on the ground is telling us otherwise.

In fact, the blame game will not help the situation, but worsen it. Mudslinging will not help clean Zanu PF’s image. If Zanu PF, as the “disciplined” ruling party was at all interested in upholding the rule of law it should have by now reined in the space barons, who are the real people tarnishing its image, not CCC.

The blame for the chaos at Mupedzanhamo and elsewhere should be placed right on the doorstep of the Zanu PF government because it has allowed people to use its name in their nefarious activities. If the party was as disciplined as it claims, it would not have brooked this nonsense all this while.

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