On Wednesday 31 March 2021, a Harare magistrate, Vongai Muchuchuti-Guuriro convicted Youth leader Makomborero Haruzivishe (Cde Mako), on charges of inciting public violence and resisting arrest. Haruzivishe is set to be sentenced tomorrow, Tuesday 6 April 2021. The court has an option to impose a fine or to sentence him in custody for up to 20 years for both convictions.
Makomborero was arrested on the 5th of February 2020 at around 1030hrs at corner First Street and Nelson Mandela in the Central Business District (C.B.D.). The state alleges that Cde Mako whistled mobilizing citizens to revolt against police officers who were arresting vendors who are “sprouting” in Harare C.B.D. The state further alleges that Cde Mako resisted being arrested as he queried why they were arresting vendors.
It is clear that the state’s case has nothing to do with either public violence or resisting arrest, it has everything to do with a class war against the poor. The state’s case feeds into an ongoing systematic attack on the working class and the poor. The police officers who were on patrol arresting “sprouting” vendors are working hard to defend both the interests of big capital and the interests of the ruling elites.
To big capital, vendors pose competition to their enterprises in a struggling economy. They also view vendors as some form of dirt that has to be cleaned from the streets of Harare. To the ruling elites vendors in the C.B.D are a nucleus for frustrated citizens to organize mass action challenging the mismanagement of the economy. Ruling elites prefer empty streets as a means of preserving hegemony of power.
The vendors did not choose to be vendors but were forced into vending by the desperate economic realities obtaining. Zimbabwe National Statistics Agency in 2020 revealed that 76% of the economically active people in Zimbabwe’s population earn a living in the informal economy. This is because there are no opportunities for formal employment. It is therefore cruel for the Zimbabwean State to punish the innocent citizens who are trying to make an innocent living through vending. The state should create jobs not to arrest those creating jobs in the informal economy. Citizens expect protection from the state but the state has turned to be an enemy of the people. The courts no longer serve justice but defend the interests of the executive and those of big capital.
The conviction of Cde Mako mirrors the conviction of a member of the Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ, Sheila Chisirimunhu. Sheila who is a teacher was convicted and sentenced to 10 months in prison for raising a placard demanding a living wage. It is very clear that our judiciary is now captured to serve the interests of business and the executive arm of government. Our constitution has a comprehensive bill of rights guaranteeing freedoms of assembly and peaceful protests. The constitution is now being disregarded by the judiciary.
Makomborero Haruzivishe is a hero for the working class and the poor. He was arrested while standing with the vulnerable vendors who were being victimized by the ruling elites. It is against this background that we condemn the arrest, detention and conviction of the people’s champion whose only crime was to demand socio economic justice for our people. Cde Mako must be unconditionally freed now!
- We call upon all citizens to join the whistling protest. Every day at 10:30hrs whistle as much as you can. Cde Mako whistled as a sign of resisting the illegal and unfair arrest of poor vendors. Zimbabweans remain trapped in poverty and there are no economic opportunities. Blow your whistle demanding jobs and freedom for Cde Mako.
- We call upon the SADC region to intervene in the Zimbabwean crisis before the conflict degenerates. The Zimbabwean state has weaponized the law to crush all dissenting voices. Zimbabwe has become worse than apartheid South Africa, we will be left with no option but to fight back by any means necessary.
- Poverty Liberation Movement
- MDCA Youth Assembly
- Friends of Job Sikhala Trust
- Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe, ARTUZ
- Zimbabwe Organization for Youth in Politics (ZOYP)
- Chapter one Foundation, Zambia
- Zimbabwe National Students Union, ZINASU
- Youth Advocacy for Voter Enlightenment and Progressive Orientation (YAVEPO)
- Chinhoyi Residents Trust
- Human Rights Institute of South Africa, HURISA
- Panos Institute Southern Africa
- DITSHWANELO – The Botswana Centre for Human Rights
- Survival Vendors Union of Zimbabwe, SVUZ
- African Network of Youth Policy Experts, Mauritius
- Media Centre, Zimbabwe
- International Socialist Organization
- International Students Union, Norway