CHITUNGWIZA — Flea market operators in Chitungwiza’s Unit O suburb are being forced to buy Zanu PF party cards before they are allowed to operate stalls.
BY OUR CORRESPONDENT
The party is on a massive recruitment drive ahead of this year’s national elections.
Traders who spoke to The Standard last week said they were being ordered to support the former ruling party and buy membership cards before being allowed to operate stalls at Unit O shopping centre.
One trader, who refused to be named for the fear of victimisation, said they have been forced to dance to the Zanu PF tune for a long time.
“This madness must stop, we are tired of being victimised by the youths who harass us every time,” he said.
“This place does not belong to Zanu PF and it will never stop us from voting for whoever we want even if they continue to intimidate us.”
Apart from being forced to buy Zanu PF cards, the traders are also coerced to attend the party’s meetings and burial of heroes and heroines.
Another trader, who asked not to be named, said they were also being forced to register as voters and to notify the party after doing so.
“We were advised to go and register as voters after that one is required to visit the local Zanu PF offices with a paper that serves as a proof that you have registered and they record you in their book,” said the trader. “The process is cumbersome.”
In the past few years, flea markets and bus termini in Zimbabwe’s urban areas have become cash cows for financially-struggling Zanu PF.
In Harare, flea market and other small-scale business operators in Mbare’s Magaba, Green market, Mupedzanhamo and Siya-so are always forced to fund Zanu PF activities or to attend the party’s meetings or heroes day celebrations.
Those who fail to attend such events risk losing their stalls, which are a source of livelihood for most people.
With the general elections expected this year, most traders feared losing their stalls to Zanu PF supporters as has been the case in previous polls.
Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF spokesperson were fruitless last week but the party has in the past distanced itself from any form of political violence, coercion or intimidation.