CCC Senator for Bulawayo Tsepiso Mpofu has accused suspected ZANU PF activists under the banner Vendors for Economic Development (Vendors4ED) of forcing vendors to pay rentals after allocating them illegal space along 5th Avenue.
In a WhatsApp exchange with one of the space barons, Mpofu accused the ZANU PF-linked activists of stealing from poor vendors and bringing people from outside Bulawayo to trade in the city. She said audio circulating on social media:
These space barons are bringing people from Masvingo and registering them as voters in Bulawayo as Zanu PF has been struggling to get enough votes in Bulawayo since 2000.
In response, the space baron said they will allocate space to vendors whether Bulawayo City Council likes it or not. He said:
We are vendors for Economic Development (ED). If we allocate people stands here, we do not choose whether one is ZANU PF or not.
We do not seek permission, but we simply tell you that we are doing this and that, whether you say you do not want it, we do not care at all.
Mpofu on Tuesday told Southern Eye she was now being threatened by Vendors4ED who are demanding that she should show them the person who is collecting money from the vendors.
She added that ZANU PF should not politicise vending as vendors are trying to make ends meet.
ZANU PF Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Archibold Chiponda refuted the allegations made by Mpofu. He said:
Can she provide us with names and details of the people doing this or some evidence? Politics is a numbers game.
If we were to bring people from Masvingo to come and vote in Bulawayo, how do you think ZANU PF as a party in Masvingo will feel?
Of course, we will be reducing their votes in Masvingo, and what senator Mpofu is saying does not make sense.
Deputy mayor Mlandu Ncube backed Mpofu’s claims, saying the space barons are sabotaging the City of Bulawayo. Said Ncube:
That is what has been happening along 5th Avenue. That is what those hooligans are doing, claiming that they were sent to do so. But soon council will remove them regardless of political affiliation.
They must understand that Bulawayo voters are smart voters, and they are worried whenever they see people sabotaging the council’s vision to develop a smart city.