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Obert Mpofu defends Grace Mugabe picture on Zupco

by Staff Reporter
12 Sep 2014 at 05:22hrs | Views
TRANSPORT minister Obert Mpofu on Wednesday defended the pasting of First Lady Grace Mugabe's pictures on Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) buses saying advertisers were free to place their adverts where they saw fit.

Zupco buses have been emblazoned with pictures of the Grace and supporting political campaign messages ever since she was nominated to lead the Zanu PF women's league.

MDC-T National Assembly MP for Glen View North, Fani Mungami, asked Mpofu during debate in Parliament if it was government policy to allow private institutions, or people, or companies to advertise on public institutions or public transport operators.

"I want to ask the Transport and Infrastructural Development minister on whether it is now government policy to allow private institutions, people or companies to advertise on public institutions or transport operators?

"I will give an example of Zupco. Zupco as a public transport company having the face of our First Lady, who is going to be our next first secretary of the women's league replacing honourable (Oppah) Muchinguri.

"Is it now government policy to allow her face to be advertised on public transport?" Mungami asked.

In response, Mpofu said Zupco falls under the Local Government, Public Works and National Housing ministry, but added: "The government has never interfered with advertisers, which of course they pay for, on any particular equipment, whether it is a vehicle or bus or anything.

"We do not discourage or encourage people to do that, but if that is a way of communicating a message, we are a free country and people are free to do so," he said.

Questions in Parliament came after the MDC led by Welshman Ncube raised concerns over the large posters on Zupco buses. MDC Matabeleland South chairperson Pilate Ndebele on Tuesday accused Zanu PF and the Mugabes of reducing the company into a party entity.

Ndebele called for the immediate removal of the Zanu PF logo and Grace's posters from all Zupco buses saying they were not owned by the Mugabes.

Bulawayo-based political activist Mmeli Dube said it was sad that there was no clear line between the government and Zanu PF, which tended to lead to abuse of State institutions and property.

On Mpofu's remarks, Dube said it has been the norm that ministers always hide behind their fingers when it comes to issues where the public doubt the authenticity of public institutions operations.

Source - Southern Eye