By NQOBANI NDLOVU/REJOICE NCUBE
HUMAN rights groups and the clergy have urged Local Government minister July Moyo to lift the ban on private transport operators and end the Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) monopoly because commuters were facing serious transport challenges.
Their statement comes at a time when social media has been awash with pictures of stranded commuters, including schoolchildren.
Recently, Moyo was in Bulawayo where he lambasted the police for allowing private kombis to operate, while also threatening to rope in the army to control errant kombi drivers.
Since then, transport challenges have been the order of the day, with students and workers being the worst affected.
Christian Alliance director Useni Sibanda said the transport quagmire was exposing schoolchildren to paedophiles and abduction.
“Our concern is that the Zupco public transport is failing; and has failed. In any case, the Zupco public transport system has become a potential source of spreading COVID-19. Secondly, parents and guardians have been relying on those kombis for school runs, a service that Zupco does not offer,” he said.
“By this, Moyo is putting our children at risk of being kidnapped for ritual purposes and to paedophiles when he says school kids should use public Zupco transport. We appeal to the President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) to reconsider the public transport policy and to let sanity prevail as this is causing serious disruptions to people’s lives.”
Matabeleland Institute for Human Rights co-ordinator Khumbulani Maphosa in a statement directed to ministers Moyo, Ziyambi Ziyambi (Justice) and Kazembe Kazembe (Home Affairs) said the rights of children should be protected.
“As an organisation existing to enhance the protection and promotion of human rights, we ask that section 19(1) and (2)(b) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe read together with section 81, which reiterates the principle of ‘best interest of the child’ and protection of children from all forms of abuse when removed from the family environment be observed,” he said.
“Therefore, may the current public transport regulations be reviewed to effect those fundamental constitutional provisions.”
Maphosa said schools had not been allocated Zupco buses which pick and drop children at school gates to protect them from being abused.
“Zupco crews are not vetted on child safeguarding issues, while some private operators have been vetted by parents’ bodies and were found competent to protect children’s rights. School run kombis must be given permits in the spirit of devolution,” he said.