Activists claim victory after Mnangagwa scraps ZUPCO monopoly

HARARE – Activists who called for a national shutdown which was largely unheeded on Monday claimed partial victory after President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that he had scrapped ZUPCO’s public transport monopoly, one of their key demands.

The call for a “stay away” which was led by students, trade unions and vote transparency activists dominated social media discussions for days.

In a surprise announcement late on Saturday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa made several pronouncements which he said were aimed at stemming the economic crisis marked by a currency collapse and rising prices.

A major victory for Mnangagwa’s critics was his decision to end the public transport monopoly of state company, ZUPCO.

“The citizens of Zimbabwe finally rediscovered their voice and managed to push the government of Zimbabwe to respond to the socio-economic challenges we are facing as a people,” Amalgamated Rural Teachers Union of Zimbabwe (ARTUZ) president Obert Masaraure said.

“You may recall that the president was forced to address the people, offering some solutions that we do not believe will work. But it is a sign that the protest action is working because the president clamped down on ZUPCO’s public transportation monopoly and said we are going to liberalise the public transportation sector.

“Secondly, we saw a cocktail of measures government is trying to institute in a desperate bid to resolve the socio-economic crisis. So, the citizens have the power. This is a victory for the people.”

Masaraure called on Zimbabweans to “continue strategising collectively against austerity measures that have crippled our health and education sectors.”

The government deployed soldiers and police on the streets of major citizens and towns, fearing street protests. It was business as usual, however, with no sign that the stay away calls had been heeded.

It was a different story at universities, however, with very little learning taking place across the country. Police deployed at the University of Zimbabwe, NUST, Chinhoyi University of Technology and Great Zimbabwe University in Masvingo.

The Zimbabwe National Students Union said in a statement: “The main objective was to close all state institutions and this is what happened, all tertiary learning institutions were on sabbatical. This is just the beginning of our action, this is a campaign and it’s still in motion.”

National police spokesman Paul Nyathi said the situation in the country was “normal.”

Meanwhile, the government is yet to publish the regulations that will govern the return of private players to the transport sector.

In his announcement, Mnangagwa said the return of private players will be done under “terms and conditions” to be published soon.

“The 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 televised address.

“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 liberalisation of the public transport system shall be done under terms and conditions to be published by government.”

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