By Nomalanga Moyo
SW Radio Africa
09 July 2014
Some vendors at Harare’s Mbare Musika have had their trading stalls repossessed by ZANU PF activists over a copy of British TV drama Strike Back which was on sale at the market.
On Monday confrontational party activists went on a rampage barring informal traders in the suburbs of Mbare and Glen View from operating for allegedly snubbing the burial of a party ‘hero’ on Sunday.
While at the Mbare market, the activists found one of the stalls had a copy of Strike Back which depicts an attempted assassination of President Robert Mugabe. The ZANU PF group claimed that the storyline is a ploy by the Brits to incite a coup against Mugabe.
The Zim Lawyers for Human Rights group, which flagged the incident, said what further incensed the activists was that other traders refused to punish their fellow stallholder for possessing the DVD.
“Feeling spurned the ZANU PF supporters suspended operations on all market stalls where vendors trade DVDs and music discs,” the lawyers group said.
On Tuesday, all CD and DVD vendors were still barred from their stalls while ZANU PF officials carried out a vetting process to ascertain each vendor’s political affiliation. By Wednesday some of the vendors had been cleared to return to their stalls.
Zim Lawyers for Human Rights spokesman Kumbirai Mafunda, who visited Mbare on Tuesday, said the vetting process involved the chanting of ZANU PF slogans. Those deemed to be of ‘questionable loyalty’ lost their stalls, and their livelihoods.
“People were being vetted at the party’s Mbare district offices and the process involved naming ZANU PF office bearers in the district.
“We understand that those who failed the slogans and knowledge of the leadership test also lost the opportunity to continue trading while those who passed, according to the ZANU PF template, are back at their stalls,” Mafunda said.
Mafunda described the actions by the ruling party supporters as paranoid, retrogressive and primitive. “It is worrying but we are not surprised because we have witnessed this many times before. It is a coercive tactic that ZANU PF uses to give the illusion that it has the numbers.”
SW Radio Africa correspondent Simon Muchemwa said ZANU PF expects the vendors to be party members after they were allocated the stalls under what the regime said was its empowerment scheme.
“Unfortunately ZANU PF does not draw a line between government and party activities. That is why the allocation of resources and opportunities which should be the duty of any government to its citizens, is done in the name of ZANU PF.
“While this is unfair, it also demonstrates how ZANU PF uses state resources to hold to ransom thousands of desperate Zimbabweans. We have seen this happening during the distribution of land, food aid, and now are seeing it with informal traders,” Muchemwa added.
The Zim Lawyers for Human Rights group said it is monitoring the situation and will be documenting such occurrences to ensure that the whole world sees the Mugabe regime for what it is.
The drama series Strike Back follows the activities and operations of a branch of the British intelligence service in high risk missions worldwide. It is adapted from a novel of the same name by ex-Special Air Service soldier Chris Ryan.
In 2011, some Masvingo Polytechnic College students were arrested for watching the video and charged with undermining the authority of or insulting the President.