Which million men will march?
LED by religious leader, Louis Farrakhan, of the Nation of Islam (NOI) movement, more than a million black men gathered in Washington, DC, in the United States to declare their right to justice, to atone for their failure as men and to accept responsibility as family heads.
The day produced a spirit of brotherhood, love, and unity like never before experienced among black men in the US.
All creeds and classes were present: Christians, Muslims, Hebrews, Agnostics, nationalists, pan-Africanists, civil rights organisations, fraternal organisations, rich, poor, celebrities and people from nearly every organisation, profession and walk of life.
It was a day of atonement, reconciliation and responsibility.
That day, the one million men march phrase was coined.
And 26 years later, thousands of miles away from the US capital, there is a group of young men and women trying a million men march, albeit for a completely different reason, if at all there is one.
These are ZANU-PF youths attempting to emulate the great American feat without being necessarily sure about what the march is really for.
At the fore is ZANU-PF deputy secretary for youth affairs, Kudzanai Chipanga.
The day of the march is conveniently set for May 25 to coincide with Africa Day commemorations.
“What is the agenda of your march, sir,” asked one of the curious journalists at a press conference last Friday.
“To reaffirm the youth league’s loyalty to His Excellency, the first secretary of ZANU-PF and the executive President of the Republic of Zimbabwe Cde Robert Mugabe, as our sole presidential candidate come 2018,” Chipanga beamed.
Gathering a million hungry souls for just that?
Is it even possible to achieve that feat?
One million people is a massive figure, much more in a country where many citizens feel so much disaffected.
There is one question which Chipanga and his fellow organisers need to answer: Does President Mugabe need a march to endorse his election candidature when party structures have already cast that in stone?
Did they not agree on that at the December 2014 ZANU-PF congress and reaffirmed it at last year’s annual conference, as much as they will do at the next two annual conferences before the 2018 elections? What more reaffirmation is needed, or could it be that someone in the ruling party has other plans to the contrary?
One is tempted to make reference to expelled former ZANU-PF Mashonaland Central provincial youth chairman, Godfrey Tsenengamu, who now leads an outfit known as Save ZANU-PF campaign.
The outfit is opposed to the march.
Tsenengamu had this to say: “We all voted for President Mugabe in the 2013 elections and he is safely there and there is no threat to his position. If there is, then the security of this country must urgently stand up and thwart that and it requires no youth to sing and dance to deal with a threat to a sitting president. We are tired of this politicking. We just need answers to an ailing economy and the youths are concerned.”
Interestingly, the march is not about any of the issues affecting the youths despite them being at the forefront of organising it.
War veterans have attempted to march before for almost similar reasons and they dismally failed.
They obviously learnt their lesson.
War veterans spokesman, Douglas Mahiya said: “It must be understood that things like this have no impact in mobilising masses. All you need is to go on the ground and be able to organise people into a formidable unit. Just a march does not tell a story. What is needed is to politicise the people in a proper manner because that way, we are assured of victory in 2018. You don’t demonstrate where politicisation has not been done.”
War veterans, though they were invited, have made it clear that they will not participate in the march.
One thing which boggles the mind is just how the youths plan to carry out the logistics for the event.
Presently, it is claimed each of the country’s 10 provinces will supply at least 100 000 people. But this will be monstrous in terms of the money needed for transport alone.
Millions of US dollars will be required for purposes of endorsing a presidential candidate, which process has already been done at other platforms that are more ideal for that?
That money can be used to help develop and empower youths than gathering them for the sake of abusing them.
But where will all such money come from?
The party itself is so broke that it cannot pay its own employees as we have reported previously.
Where will the buses that are to transport the people to Harare come from?
Even if all bus companies are to direct their coaches to this programme on the day, they will not be enough.
Elementary mathematics would show that at least 13 000 buses with a carrying capacity of 75 each would be required to carry a million people to Harare.
Maybe if the National Railways of Zimbabwe was still fully operational, just maybe, it could help.
Political scientist, Ibbo Mandaza, said while ZANU-PF had the potential to gather masses, there was nothing amazing about the march.
“There was a similar march against sanctions a few years ago and people were bussed from all over the country. So they can bring people, but there is nothing really amazing about the march,” he said.
“This is just politics. There is so much competition for political space in the party and given the intense rivalry, someone should be seen to be doing something to gain favour with authorities,” he added.
Political commentator, Alexander Rusero said: “Obviously there is no way one million people can be at one place at the same time in Harare, but we know politics is a game of numbers and they will inflate whatever figure to one million. Aside from the numbers, there is nothing much to say about the march.”
While ZANU-PF might want to paint the picture of a nation on the freeze, awaiting a great day which is showing over the fictitious horizon, the situation on the ground paints quite a different story.
On the streets of Harare or of any other town or city, for that matter, there is serious lack of anticipation for the “mammoth” event.
In all fairness, one can safely say the events organised previously by mega churches such as Emmanuel Makandiwa’s United Families International, or Walter Magaya’s Prophetic Healing and Deliverance church have attracted more enthusiasm than the looming million men march.
But, of course, the mainstream media in Zimbabwe and media outlets from around the world will be watching to share the story with those who, by geography and design, will not be there.
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