Former president Robert Mugabe’s dramatic fall after the army seized control of government on November 12 sparked unparalleled patriotic fever among Zimbabweans.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
Suddenly, the Zimbabwe flag became a fashion statement and vendors were back in business.
Amos Mpofu, who usually sells bottled water and airtime recharge cards at the intersection of Harare’s Julius Nyerere Way and Kenneth Kaunda Avenue, is one of the vendors who seized the opportunity and recorded brisk business.
Mpofu said the past two weeks had been good for business as the army takeover had also seen the Zimbabwe Republic Police cutting down significantly on their patrols.
“There is a very high demand for the Zimbabwe flag,” he said.
“Almost all the vendors who used to sell different wares on the streets are now selling flags.
“It’s an opportunity my brother and as you can see, people are celebrating and they are buying these flags.”
The Zimbabwe flag is selling for $10, $3 and $1 on the streets depending on the size. Mpofu said he was making at least $200 a day selling the flags.
Webster Kwatara, who operates from the intersection of Bishop Gaul Avenue and Rekai Tangwena Street, said he sold a lot of flags on November 18 when people flooded the streets demanding that Mugabe should step down.
The flags also sold like hot cakes when Mugabe announced that he was stepping down last Tuesday.
“I was selling music and movie discs before the army takeover,” he said. “Last Saturday I sold almost 15 big-sized flags and about 20 small ones. On Tuesday I sold almost the same number of flags.”
Sheppard Murandu, who was drapped in national colours last Saturday, said he bought the Zimbabwe flag because it was a national symbol that could not be monopolised by a political party.
“I bought this flag because it doesn’t represent any political party,” he said.
“I am celebrating because we are removing a person who denied us peace.”
Tapiwa Muchabaiwa said he felt a sense of pride when he drapped himself in national colours and took to the streets last Saturday.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said the sudden demand for the national flag did not come as a surprise.
“The flag is a symbol of patriotism, it’s an identity and everyone’s property,” he said.
“Where our government seems to violate and distort our rights, our default fall-back position is something we all share — our patriotism.
“When Zimbabweans brandish their flag against the establishment, it signifies dignified defiance and contempt for those who are seen to be violating national ethos.”
Dewa Mavhinga, a human rights defender, said the flag was a rallying symbol.
“The flag is a rallying point and national symbol of unity and non-partisanship, non-polarising patriotism,” he said.
“It is a symbol that binds together Zimbabweans from all walks of life to common hope and aspirations for a better future.”
Last year, Mugabe’s government tried to ban the use of the national flag by invoking Statutory Instrument 184 of 1987 to restrict the commercial production, sale or any “abuse” of the national flag.
This was a direct response to a spring of protests led by cleric Evan Mawarire who was leading calls for Mugabe to step down.
He appeared in videos drapped in national colours calling for an end to endemic corruption.