There has been a visible increase in the number of vendors with the national flag wrapped around their necks, especially at busy traffic intersections.
The national flag used to be worn by vendors who only sold flags at robots – mostly during football and national event days. Nowadays it is common to find even a chocolate or sweet vendor wearing one every day of the week. The adoption of the national flag as some type of uniform by vendors has led many people to question their motives especially considering recent political events such as the #ThisFlag campaign begun by Pastor Evan Mawarire.
Harare News set spoke to Larmeck (22) a vendor from Epworth who operates at the intersection of Seke Road and Robson Manyika Avenue who said he puts on the flag as an advertisement for his wares.
“We sell flags so we have to display them so that potential buyers can easily spot them. There has been an increase in demand of flags over the past few months, which is why many vendors are now selling flags in addition to other things,” said Larmeck.
Another vendor Israel Chitukutuku (31) from Southlea Park who operates at the corner of Simon Muzenda Street (formerly Fourth Street) and Samora Machel Avenue had a different reason for wearing the national flag during his vending hours.
“We used to wear flags during football days only, but we soon realised that they are an easy way to identify us as vendors because of their bright colours. Motorists can easily spot us thereby making our work easier,” explained Chitukutuku.
However, Martin Chiundura (29) another vendor who operates along Josiah Chinamano Avenue believes that the national flag is a form of political protection for some of the vendors.
“My colleague is the one who peddles flags. Personally I put it on as it provides me with a form of political protection. We have realised that it is more difficult for law enforcement agents to arrest us while we are wearing the national flag,” narrated Chiundura. Chiundura is referring to the fact that the flag has traditionally been associated with Zanu-PF and so wearing it symbolises their patriotism and support for the ruling party.
One social analyst who refused to be named for professional reasons concurred with Chiundura saying that it was interesting to note that many vendors are now wearing the national flag because of the popularity of the #ThisFlag campaign.
“Vendors have been part of the political movement in the country and it is not surprising that many people are associating their putting on of the national flag with politics,” he explained.
Image: Vendors selling various goods at an intersection in the CBD with the Zimbabwean flag prominently displayed.