Zimbabwe is said to be fast becoming a country of vendors with unemployment now estimated at over 90% of the population.
By Phyllis Mbanje
Some like Hardlife Mudzingwa have degrees and their sophistication has seen them scaling heights those that hustle on the streets never dream of.
Mudzingwa grabbed newspaper headlines last week after going to the High Court to seek the arrest of Higher Education minister Jonathan Moyo on corruption allegations arising from alleged abuse of Zimbabwe Manpower Development Fund (Zimdef) money.
In court papers, he describes himself as a “vendor”.
But no sooner had the ink dried in the newspapers that questions began being asked: Who is Hardlife Mudzingwa? Where does a vendor get money for such expensive litigation?
The suggestion was, if indeed he is a vendor, Mudzingwa could not be his own man, but is being used by powerful forces who want to see Moyo behind bars.
Mudzingwa (34) has a degree in developmental studies from the University of Zimbabwe and holds a diploma in labour law.
The vendor, it has been established, works for a non-governmental organisation, which he founded.
But Mudzingwa’s most prominent role yet has been as national spokesperson for the political pressure group, Tajamuka, which has been organising protest action against the Zanu PF government.
In one outspoken interview, he declared that President Robert Mugabe would be out of power by December.
Mudzingwa yesterday said he sometimes operates as a vendor around Harare’s central business district.
“I sell perfumes,” he said.
He denies being used by a Zanu PF faction led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, which Moyo has publicly accused of engineering allegations that he stole over $400 000 from Zimdef.
The minister says the money was used to fund Zanu PF activities that included Mugabe’s 92nd birthday celebrations in Masvingo.
Moyo, along with several other senior Zanu PF figures known as the G40, are at odds with Mnangagwa, who is accused of using unorthodox means to position himself to be the next Zanu PF leader.
Moyo inferred on Twitter this week that the State media was in bed with Mudzingwa as they appeared to get advance notice about his court case.
“I’m just a young person whose desire is to see the full realisation of human rights in this country,” said Mudzingwa. “Like many young people, I want to witness the progression of this country through the revitalisation of the economy.
“Young people constitute the majority in this current generation and my desire is to influence the correction of the wrongs that have plunged the country into the doldrums of misery.”
He said he had no personal vendetta against Moyo as alleged in some circles.
“That’s not true. It’s always like this when someone raises pertinent issues. Some people assume there is a motive behind and there is monetary gain. This is not the case here,” he said
“The issue of fighting corruption is actually one of Tajamuka’s 10 talking points. We will not stand by when it comes to corrupt people.
“If Moyo’s hands are clean as he insists, he was supposed to present himself to the Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission. These are taxpayer funds we are talking about.”
Asked who was funding his legal suit, Mudzingwa claimed his lawyer was acting on pro-bono basis after the duo reached an “understanding”.
He is being represented by Mupindu Legal Practitioners.
Former vice-president Joice Mujuru also claimed that she was a vendor when she challenged the imminent introduction of bond notes at the Constitutional Court last month.
In 2013, Jealousy Mawarire also made legal history when he went to the courts to force Mugabe to call for elections at a time opposition parties were fighting for electoral reforms.
He simply described himself as a Harare man, but this did not stop people from speculating that he was being used by Zanu PF factions battling for control of the party in anticipation that its 92-year-old leader would soon exit the scene.
Mawarire is now spokesperson of Mujuru’s party, Zimbabwe People First.