Parastatals yesterday made a beeline at President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s scheduled meeting with Harare vendors, dangling sweeteners, including flexible cash-lending facilities to the small-scale traders to woo them to vote for Zanu PF in next week’s elections.
Mnangagwa, however, did not turn up for the meeting amid reports that he was not impressed with the low turn-out and sent in his stead, Zanu PF chairperson Oppah Muchinguri to address the vendors.
Although National Vendors’ Association of Zimbabwe chairperson Sten Zvorwadza said the meeting was apolitical, those who attended were given Zanu PF regalia as they entered and the ruling party presidential candidate’s campaign posters and fliers were all over the venue.
Parastatals NetOne, POSB and TelOne led the way in dangling sweet deals for vendors, who have for a long time been victim to government-initiated efforts to flush them off the streets.
POSB said it was now offering loans at a rate as low as 5% interest, TelOne came in promising to build trading stalls and provide free wi-fi facilities for vendors while NetOne introduced its OneMoney wallet which allows transactions using mobile money free of charge.
Speaking at the event, Zvorwadza waxed lyrical about the Zanu PF presidential candidate, describing him as a double hero who after fighting against the oppressive white colonial rule, he went on to dethrone former President Robert Mugabe last year.
“He is a double hero (Mnangagwa) he fought the liberation struggle and again he fought another liberation struggle together with (Vice-President Constantino) Chiwenga and his lieutenants, if I could speak on behalf of Zimbabwe and I know nobody will oppose me, that Mnangagwa is a double hero,” he said.
Zvorwadza claimed that illegal money changers were the backbone of the economy.
“Informal economy workers like artisanal miners, small-scale farmers, touts, foreign currency dealers and others, you are important because you are the backbone of this country. I believe all you want this to improve your lives,” he said.
In a speech read on his behalf by Muchinguri, Mnangagwa said his government had plans to generate better employment opportunities for the youth and improve citizens’ lives after receiving a fresh mandate on July 30.
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