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National Vendors’ Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) chairperson Stern Zvorwadza has handed himself over to the police following reports that he was wanted for his involvement in demonstrations held countrywide this week.
His lawyer, Obey Shava of Mbidzo, Muchadehama and Makoni Legal Practitioners, confirmed Zvorwadza presented himself to the police yesterday.
“He was today (yesterday) summoned to the police for his involvement with the masses who demonstrated this week. It is surprising why my client is wanted by the Law and Order Department.
“Zimbabweans are protected by the law to protest. Protests are above board as long as they are peaceful,” Shava said, adding that his client had not yet been formally charged.
In an interview with NewsDay Weekender, another activist implicated in mobilising Zimbabweans in the demonstrations through social media, Promise Mkwananzi of the #Tajamuka/Sesijikile fame, also said he would present himself to the police, but insisted he had not committed any crime.
“I am currently consulting with my lawyers and am going to present myself to the Law and Order Department today (yesterday),” Mkwananzi said.
“I am handing over myself to the police with a clear conscience because everything that I am doing is above board.”
Information, Media and Broadcasting Services minister Christopher Mushohwe on Thursday warned that government was cracking down on “ghosts who have been behind inflammatory messages on social media”.
#Thisflag frontman Evan Mawarire, Mkwananzi and Zvorwadza were some of the individuals suspected to be behind the countrywide demonstrations.
Mkwananzi, however, said there was nothing amiss about mobilising fellow citizens through social media to ensure an accountable leadership.
“Calling on President (Robert Mugabe) to resign is lawful. We are not doing anything criminal,” he said, adding that he was ready to reproduce in court any material that he generated on social media.
“We are peaceful citizens who have not in any way generated anything that promotes violence,” he said, pointing out that this was the reason why he was not part of the protesters intending to march to State House over the weekend.
Mkwananzi added: “We are not part of that group. What we want to reaffirm is that our leadership should brace for more peaceful protests to promote democracy in Zimbabwe and ensure that the people’s rights are guaranteed.”
Mkwananzi dismissed the assertion that social media was being abused by activists like him who wanted to advance a regime change agenda.
“I am not abusing social media. It is the other way round where government is abusing the State media,” he said.
Mkwananzi said it was unfortunate that in its ploy to silence angry citizens, government was frantically trying to employ all means possible including forcing telecommunications companies to t stifle the voice of the people.
“Wanting to engage those in the telecommunications industry to ensure that there is no free flow of information is reflective of how our system is undemocratic,” he said.
“Anything that we are saying on social media, government should take heed and ensure that they fulfil the wishes of the people. Instead of investing their energy hunting down innocent people like me, they must otherwise divert all that energy in fighting corruption and promoting good governance.”
He called on Zimbabweans to remain vigilant and demand justice across all sectors.
“Government has the money. Recent developments where they have settled civil servants’ salaries because people have indicated their displeasure through stayaways, indicate that,” Mkwananzi said.
“People should follow up on what is right and hold our leadership accountable.”
Addressing journalists at a Press conference at Navuz offices yesterday morning, Zvorwadza also distanced himself from today’s purported march to State House, saying that the constituency that he represented was not a violent lot.
“We are not part of that group intending to march to State House and we are saying to Zimbabweans, do not be part of lawlessness. Everything that we do should be peaceful,” Zvorwadza said.
He said vendors wanted a government that had the interests of the people at heart, hence they were currently mobilising to protest peacefully.
“We are against the banning of products from South Africa because we are saying does the local industry have the capacity to provide for the nation? In other words, government through this law is only making life difficult for ordinary people because we are going to fuel scarcity of such commodities which will cause the prices of those products to be beyond the reach of many,” Zvorwadza said.source-newsday