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Maimane comes out in support of planned Monday stayaway

ONE South Africa Movement leader Mmusi Maimane has joined growing calls in Zimbabwe for a mass stayaway on Monday saying South Africa had “paid a heavy price for the oppression in Zimbabwe”.

The former leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance said in a tweet: “There is no room for suppression of the rights of the people, including the right to protest. There should be no obstruction of the people. There should be no arrests and intimidation of activists.”

His call comes a week after Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) leader Julius Malema made a strong call for Zimbabweans to “go and vote and remove that nonsense that is happening in Zimbabwe and come back if you want to come back. You cannot just fold your hands”.

Maimane, who was a critic of the late president Robert Mugabe before the November 2017 coup, and is also critical of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, added that the problems in Zimbabwe were affecting the whole of Southern Africa.

“We will not ignore brutality and oppression. We cannot repeat the mistakes of 2002 and 2008. We cannot support dictatorship anymore. It is costing us dearly. Costing the whole of SADC,” he tweeted.

But Mnangagwa says the economy is being sabotaged by foreign countries and businesses linked to the opposition, as well as foreign embassies stationed in Harare.

“Business cannot purport to support the government by day and sabotage it by night, and thereafter play the victim,” he said at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) last week.

Chaos in the public transport sector has sparked the latest calls for a stayaway.

In 2020, the government banned private commuter omnibus operators and instructed them to join the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) franchise.

Zupco, a government-owned company founded in 1985, collapsed in 2016 because of corruption linked to senior Zanu-PF officials.

While new buses came, private operators were invited to join Zupco, many of whom came in with rudimentary “chicken buses”.

But growing disgruntlement from the public has led the government to acknowledge the transport sector’s failures.

“Government is concerned about the inconvenience caused to travellers by the shortage of transport. Zupco is engaging private operators to ensure the safety of our travelling public,” Information Minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists.

The local currency in the past week has been in a freefall, despite measures by the central clearing house – the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe (RBZ) – to attempt to inspire confidence in the dollar.

The Confederation of Zimbabwe Industries (CZI) has since warned that the currency is on the “brink of rejection in the face of exchange instability and increasing inflation”.

But Deputy Finance Minister Clemence Chiduwa, responding in parliament to questions from Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) legislator Tendai Biti – a former finance minister during Zimbabwe’s coalition government – said: “We cannot run a country with a currency that is not ours. What the Honourable member (Biti) is saying does not work. We are going to make it work with the Zimbabwean dollar.” — News24