POLICE in Harare on Friday (today) crushed a demonstration by a handful of activists led by the National Vendors Union of Zimbabwe (Navuz) and the Restoration of Human Rights Zimbabwe (RoHR Zimbabwe) and briefly detained two activists for protesting against the country’s second vice president Phelekezela Mphoko’s continued stay at a five star Harare hotel.
The opposition MDC-T party also issued a statement today (in a separate development) against Mphoko, saying he was being “selfish” to be enjoying such luxury at time when the country was in an economic meltdown.
“Who does this man think he is? Does he know that he is just a nonentity compared to revolutionary icons and liberation struggle stalwarts such as the late vice president Joshua Nkomo and the late vice president John Landa Nkomo? It is apparent that Mphoko would like to set a new Guiness Book of World Records as the Vice President who stayed the longest in a 5 star hotel presidential suite,” says Gutu in his statement.
The protesters, who included women with children strapped to their backs, questioned the logic behind Mphoko’s stay in the Presidential Suite at the Rainbow Towers Hotel when most Zimbabweans were struggling to get a meal a day and the government was government was struggling to pay civil servants..
Media reports say Mphoko has been staying at the hotel for almost 15 months gobbling about US$300 000.
Mphoko has reportedly spurned three houses offered by government, describing one of the houses, a US$3 million mansion in the leafy Ballantyne Park as too small for a person of his stature.
The protesters gathered at the hotel’s reception demanding that Mphoko immediately pack his bags and go to his official house which he has refused to occupy.
Navuz chairman Stan Zvorwadza said they were protected by Section 59 of the country’s Constitution and the anti-riot police had no right to disrupt their protest.
“I am warning the Zimbabwe Republic Police not to interfere with our civic rights. If they interfere we will declare this hotel shut from now until Phelekhezela Mphoko leaves this hotel…We are not compromising for less, we are not even budging and I urge riot police to behave like human beings,” he said.
He threatened that the group would destroy the hotel if the anti-riot police attacked them.
The demonstration was, however, short-lived as baton wielding anti-riot police raided the hotel targeting Zvorwadza and activist Liberty William whom they bundled into their truck and took them to Harare Central police station where they were briefly detained before being released.
Police spokesman, Chief Superintendent Paul Nyathi, said he was not aware of the incident referring all l questions to national spokesperson Charity Charamba who hung up on calls from the media.
Adds Gutu:” With politicians and government officials in the mould of Mphoko, Zimbabwe’s socio-economic quagmire can only but get worse and worse. We have a vice President who wants to lead the life of a celebrity at the expense of a bankrupt government. What a shame! What a disgrace!” – Patience Rusere additional reporting ANA