Sten Zvorwadza, the Chairman of the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (NAVUZ) has said he had great confidence in the Emmerson Mnangagwa-led government when it came to power in 2017 but is reconsidering his stance on the regime.
“I was one person with confidence that Zimbabwe would do extremely well under the leadership of Emmerson Mnangagwa. The thinking was that when Emmerson Mnangagwa got into power, he would form a government of national unity with various progressive forces from different political parties, civil society, churches, and the business community and suspend elections for five years.
“In Mnangagwa, even the western world whose stance on the ruling ZANU (PF) was aggressive saw a ray of hope for bringing hope to this troubled, teapot-shaped country. The Queen of England was at one time reported having warmed up to Mnangagwa. I must confess that I have waited since the 2018 elections to witness reforms in the country but I am afraid to say that I am disappointed because the country is sliding towards the worst in terms of business development, peace and unity as well as political reforms,” Zvorwadza said.
During the Mugabe regime, Zvorwadza was a fierce critic of the government. He led various protests against government excesses including the staying of former Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko at the flamboyant Rainbow Towers Hotel at the expense of the taxpayer as well as police brutality against vendors and civil society activists. For his activism, Zvorwadza was imprisoned many times and often brutalised by state security agents.
On the assumption of power by the ‘new dispensation’, Zvorwadza withdrew from protesting and the public eye. Political science student John Musakaruka said Zvorwadza had joined the political gravy train and thus had become mute.
“How can Zvorwadza speak up against the regime when he is busy eating. It’s not good manners to talk while eating. They say money is the root of all evil. Whoever imagined that the likes of Lilian Timveos, Obert Gutu, Tongai Matutu, and Blessing Chebundo would one day be paraded as ZANU (PF) members?” Musakaruka said.
Probed by this publication on whether he had indeed been bribed to keep silent about the failure of the government to implement expected reforms promised when the new regime came into power, Zvorwadza assured Zimbabweans that the activist in him will soon erupt like a volcano as he will be demanding accountability from the leadership.