Zanu PF disowns Queen of Grace

HARARE - Zanu PF has distanced itself from a vendors’ representative group that goes by the bizarre name of Queen of Grace ZimAsset Trust (QGZT) which is allegedly coercing street traders to buy $5 membership cards from the organisation for protection.

This comes as government has ordered vendors to vacate the streets and relocate to designated areas in urban areas.

Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said yesterday that he had no knowledge of a link between the group and the ruling party.

“I don’t know about it. Maybe you should have asked honourable (Sithembiso) Nyoni (SMEs minister). Yesterday, she was addressing vendors in her capacity as a government official and not on behalf of the party,” Moyo said.

On Tuesday, Nyoni addressed vendors led by QGZT, a group which claims to have links with controversial First Lady Grace Mugabe and Zanu PF, going on to castigate unregistered vendor associations who were urging vendors to defy government’s directive to move to designated sites.

Nyoni recently gave vendors time, until June 28, to regularise their trade with local authorities after Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo and a military official had earlier given them until June 8 to vacate the streets.

Amid all this, there have been claims that there is a proliferation of bogus informal groups who are abusing Grace’s name in a deliberate effort to gain acceptance and to be exempted from scrutiny by authorities.

When contacted for comment, Monica Mutsvangwa, the secretary for information in the Zanu PF women’s league, also distanced the first lady from the vendor outfit.

“The first lady has nothing to do with that,” she said tersely.

This latest development comes on the back of the recent arrests of former Zanu PF Harare youth league provincial chairperson Godwin Gomwe and others that include Muchineripi Mupindu, Hamphrey Madenyika, Norah Toronga, Fidelis Ndaradza, Haruwandi Munyawiri and Josephine Hadziyendi  on charges of abusing Grace’s name in an alleged extortion racket.

The charges against Gomwe and his alleged accomplices arose after reports that they had participated in a meeting in February where they allegedly instructed complainants to affiliate to an unregistered consortium in the name of Dr Amai Grace Mugabe Consortium.

The court heard that Gomwe allegedly told complainants that this would bring them closer to the First Family and instructed each co-operative to pay $120 joining fees — after which they would be issued with receipts.

A report was subsequently made to the police after the group approached the consortium members demanding more money, the court heard.

Pedzisai Ruhanya, a media and democracy scholar told the Daily News yesterday that a new political constituency could be in the making with vendor associations claiming to be affiliated to Zanu PF emerging.

QGZT, which has been in the limelight as champions for vendors’ rights, has often claimed to be an arm of the ruling party.

During a clean-up campaign hosted by the vendor organisation, its chief executive officer Ephraim Chizola said their parent body was the Zimbabwe Liberation War Collaborators Association (Zilwaco).

As part of its patronage and allegiance to the organisation, Queen of Grace issues out cards to its members which they produce to trade in the streets freely.

Ruhanya, said the scramble for vendors signified the shifting political economy of Zimbabwe in the wake of massive unemployment and lack of production in industry.

He said associations such as QGZT were “a joke run by the same Zanu PF that created the mess in the first place”.

The Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director said the dearth of the economy had created new social bases which Zanu PF wanted to capitalise from for political mileage.

“There are four social bases in Zimbabwe — vendors, informal traders or cross borders, new farmers and makorokoza. Because these bases have a large number of organised people, political parties want to capture them for their own purposes.

“These parties want to enhance their political fortunes in time for the forthcoming elections, creating contestations of power and economic resources,” Ruhanya said.

He said that organisations such as the Queen of Grace used political patronage by issuing vendors with cards and promising vending space so that they could push Zanu PF’s agenda and ideology.

He said the situation in Zimbabwe with regard to the new social bases was a result of Zanu PF’s failure because of its officials’ corrupt activities.

“If a proper demographic survey is conducted, you will find out that many of these vendors and others in the various social bases are very sophisticated people who know what they want. If Zanu PF is very serious about championing the cause of the people let them open up industries and allow foreign direct investment.

“You will find that once that happens and people have formal jobs, vendors will be off the streets in a flash,” he said.

In a statement this week, the MDC said they would do everything within their power to provide vendors with recognition, protection and security in their places of trade.

The party said it would negotiate with representatives from vendor associations to come up with conditions under which vendors could undertake their business activities.

“We will endeavour to provide shelter and toilet facilities for all street traders and as the country’s largest and most popular political party, we will not cooperate with any attempts to violate the rights of vendors.

“The MDC calls upon all local authorities that we control to hold formal, detailed discussions with the vendor associations in each urban area and to agree on the way forward. In no way should the municipal police be used in any exercise to ban traders from urban areas,” read part of the statement.

Comments (4)

Queen of Grace,what a name,kkkkkk ndaseka zvangu ini mkanya.What are people doing?Is our country degenerating in all into insanity

carson macate - 19 June 2015

some people are out to make money by taking advantage of any situation whether good or bad. these are the ones who tarnish other people's names. its not right.

sando - 19 June 2015

Ka 'of' ako neke fake otherwise kutoti queen gre pafeya kuti zvityise vendor riburitse mari! rega wabirwe stereki mavendor iyaya nekuti zombo harifundi nikisi. Mbavha dziri kuforma mabogus organisation to extort money from innocent and at the same time illegal hard working vendors.

SaManyika Chaiye - 19 June 2015

Diko ngaadyirwe mare anhu awo,ndiwo anovhotazve,saka zviri kuhamba ku side kwavo.Unoti anozodyirepi?Kkkk,nyika iya yonakidza

wasu - 19 June 2015

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