By Mary Taruvinga
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has succumbed to public pressure and has opened the public transport system to other players, effectively ending a two-year ZUPCO monopoly.
The move comes at a time civil society organisations have been calling for a national shutdown Monday over, among other things, a transport crisis which left commuters in urban areas stranded over the past two weeks.
In addition to opening up the public transport sector, Mnangagwa also gave operators the greenlight to import buses duty free.
“Government is proceeding to open up public transport system for other players in order to complement the services being provided by Zupco in line with the reduction in Covid-19 cases and the subsequent opening up of the economy,” Mnangagwa said in a 22 page speech delivered Sunday night.
“To compliment the above measures, government will allow for the duty free importation for a period of 12 months, for vehicles which meet regulations to be issued. The liberisation of the public transport system shall be done under terms and conditions to be published by government,” he said.
“The police would need to ensure that law and order is adhered to as the behaviour on our roads needs to be seriously attended to. Non-adherence to the rules and regulations to be gazetted would not be tolerated,” she added.
Mnangagwa said the measures are aimed at stopping “economic hitmen”.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson Peter Mutasa insisted the country must be shutdown regardless of the move.
CiZC is one of the organisations which are leading the shutdown calls.
“We perceive the call for collective action as two pronged. On the one hand it aims to ensure that people exercise their constitutional rights and freedoms. The current state where the state is closing the democratic space is not good for development and constitutionalism. For this our view is that citizens must continue with the protest in order to entrench constitutionalism and democracy,” he said.
Another organisation, Team Pachedu, said: “The planned shutdown is already yielding some positive results before the actual date.”
“We have taken note of Mnangagwa’s new policies and promises, however some issues remain outstanding. We are engaging other stakeholders to discuss the new development.”
Opposition party Transform Zimbabwe leader Jacob Ngarivhume: “The shutdown must go on. These people only respond to people pressure.”
Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) secretary general Tapiwanashe Chiriga said: “The first intention of a shutdown was achieved. The message and demands have reached him (Mnangagwa). Now #ShutDownZimbabwe will proceed until education is affordable, salaries have value, dignity restored.”