Sadly, this unfair practice was repeated this week by Rugare Gumbo who, in their exchange of insults with his former boss, Joice Mujuru, ended up attacking innocent vendors. Gumbo and anyone of like-minded would do well if they stop dragging everybody in their messy divorce. As a politician, Gumbo fails to realise that vendors make up a critical component in the political matrix of this country. Their vote is very important and can decide his political destiny, albeit their low social standing. He is, therefore, totally wrong for believing that "meeting with vendors cannot change the situation." Politics is a game of numbers and vendors are a critical mass.
"We don't believe in going around the provinces meeting vendors and so on, as if that is what can change the Zimbabwean situation," Gumbo said. That statement is pregnant with meanings. If the break-away ZimPF wants to be a serious political ensemble, it must remove the old man from the spokesperson's desk. He is just careless and a total liability. Gumbo's statement gives us the impression that vendors and by implications other ordinary members of the society have no place in his party. We thought we would hear Didymus Mutasa distancing himself or his party from Gumbo's utterances. It seems they are ok with that dangerous statement.
Gumbo thinks that vendors are not worthy listening to. He must take time to mingle with them and he will be shocked to realise that there are decent thinkers in the streets. Those vendors are not in the streets by choice but the sanction-induced economic hardships forced them into vending. They have great ideas that can bring grist to the mill of a listening politician. Indeed some of them are quite educated, if not more educated than Gumbo himself.
The shona elders would say seka urema wafa. It will not surprise anyone that one day Gumbo will see himself vending in the streets with the class of citizens he is belittling today. He must get advice from his erstwhile ally, Dzikamai Mavhaire. When Mavhaire was booted out of Zanu PF for calling President Mugabe to step down, hard times caught up with him. He ended up brushing shoulders with vendors, selling tiny sour oranges in a ramshackle vehicle. It does not take time for one to fall from glory to shame. Gumbo is still enjoying the little savings from his Zanu PF job and the donor funds we hear they have been abusing in ZimPF. Very soon he will be dry. As one Professor would say handei tione!
Gumbo thinks his imagined sophistication and education will turn into votes. Old habits die hard. We have read history. At one time, Gumbo ran away from the struggle to further his education. He told those he left in the trenches that they should continue fighting while he furthered his education so that he would rule them upon his return. Indeed when he came back, history has it that he would always remind everybody including the decorated ZANLA commander Josiah Tongogara that they were not as educated as he was. That bigoted attitude led to his arrest after he attempted a coup.
This is where these western sponsored parties differ from Zanu PF. Whenever the revolutionary party holds its rallies, vendors voluntarily leave their stalls to attend the rally. Of course the likes of Gumbo and other opposition elements rush to say they are being force marched to the rallies. No, they know that the party has their interests at heart. We have heard the first lady Dr Grace Mugabe who is Zanu PF secretary for women's league saying vendors must be protected from municipal police who are in the habit of confiscating their wares. That's being sensitive and a true reflection of the party that she comes from.
It appears that the opposition politicians generally do not have attachment to those in the lower social stratum. The MDC-T leader, Mr Morgan Tsvangirai is on record insulting the same social group. He derogatively told poor peasant farmers whom government had resettled that they just sprout like mushrooms. He called villagers mushrooms and the other day he called them blind puppies. Tsvangirai chided the villagers that he had assembled at a rally that they do not have undergarments. Unsophisticated as these politicians might think, the ordinary people matter much in the ballot.
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