Presidential insult rap against Zvorwadza withdrawn

HARARE - National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) chairperson Sten Zvorwadza was yesterday freed in a case in which he was accused of undermining the authority of former president Robert Mugabe.

Zvorwadza, who was represented by Jeremiah Bamu of Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights, was accused of undermined the authority of or insulting Mugabe in an interview with Zimbabwe’s leading daily newspaper, the Daily News.

His lawyer  successfully applied for refusal of further remand.

In the October 9 article, the Daily News quoted Zvorwadza dismissing an edict issued by Mugabe at a Zanu PF conclave in Harare that government would drive out some informal sector traders from Harare’s Central Business District.

Zvorwadza said: “As informal sector we will not listen to such nonsense, we will stay in the streets. He is daydreaming. I bet with my head, the president has no capacity to remove vendors from streets. He must depart from this issue of daydreaming. Mugabe must appreciate the role of the informal sector. Zimbabweans must understand that Mugabe is old and he is a dead man walking.”

Mugabe had told a rally that he would be issuing an edict aimed at bringing order to the bustling city of some 2 million people.

Mugabe had said food stalls would be moved off the pavements and some could be relocated to new sites. He said he would not allow street vending to be a common feature of Harare “Nigerian style.”

The teetotaller had said the vendors should move out as the government would not accept the chaos they bring, adding that they must accept to be relocated to designated vending stalls and trade openly where the authorities assign them.

The remarks came as Mugabe had failed to create jobs for the burgeoning, young population.

“When I arrived from South Africa, I heard that Harare is now dirty with vendors now everywhere, even streets which were given names such as (Julius) Nyerere and Robert Mugabe are now covered with dirt,” Mugabe told the meeting of his Zanu PF youth wing.

“Some vendors are selling their wares during the night so that they cannot be arrested.”

Ever since the City of Harare launched a crackdown on vendors, they have taken to selling their wares well into the night to evade municipal police and also make a better killing through quick sales to a homeward-bound workforce.

Mugabe also said he was told that some senior Zanu PF leaders were protecting the vendors because they fear losing the forthcoming 2018 elections.

“I was talking to (Home Affairs minister Ignatius) Chombo yesterday saying why do we allow our roads to be grocery shops. I said we must give them designated areas so that they will sell their wares outside the roads and leave the roads free.

“He told me that the vendors are saying they want to sell their products everywhere.

“I said that we don’t want that indiscipline, down with that indiscipline, they must go to designated areas.

“We don’t want the Nigerian style. Harare must be the smartest city because it is our capital city,” Mugabe said.

In a related case Abraham Rukwava ,28, who was arrested after allegedly insulting Mugabe in a minibus, was also freed by the same court. The court hearings were presided over by Harare magistrate Rumbidzayi Mugwagwa.

The State had alleged that Rukwava  was  drunk and started shouting: “Mutungamiri wenyika ino achembera haachakwanisa kuita chinhu muno munyika. (The president of this country is too old and unable to do anything because of advanced age).”