Mugabe makes bold statement
PLACARDS were held aloft, and the city centre exploded as tens of thousands of supporters, young and old, took part in ZANU-PF’s million man march.
They played the late Simon Chimbetu’s music, accompanied by cheers and ululation.
The crowd, from all corners of the country, shouted, “Long live Gushungo”, chanting praises to President Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s leader since independence in 1980, as they marched to what the ruling party named Robert Mugabe Square in 2014.
Ironically, it was the same venue which the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), led by Morgan Tsvangirai, named “Freedom Square”, as the country’s main opposition party sought to wrest power from ZANU-PF in 2013.
The MDC-T had sought to gain inspiration from events in the former Soviet Union where Erivan was named Freedom Square in 1918 during the foundation of the First Georgian Republic following the collapse of the Russian Empire.
As fate would have it, the MDC-T was thoroughly embarrassed by ZANU-PF, when it lost the 2013 elections by a wide margin.
President Mugabe, for whom this million-man march was organised, must have left the Square, an open space adjacent to the Rainbow Towers Hotel, a hugely satisfied man due to the bumper crowd.
“This was the best act of all the acts that the party was capable of, done by the youths of the party; the youths performed well. It was well organised,” said a visibly elated President Mugabe, who punctuated his lengthy address with unusually generous tributes to Kudzai Chipanga, the ZANU-PF Youth League deputy secretary who was the brains behind the gathering.
If anything was achieved by the march, it was that President Mugabe, now 92 years old, should rule the country for life.
President Mugabe, his wife Grace and Chipanga were the only people to address the crowd and reiterate this message.
The President himself declared he was not going to leave office unless the “people said so”, and warned that any discussion about his departure amounted to treason.
“There should never be little groups to promote so and so. Those little groups are treasonous groups,” he thundered to the amusement of the crowd.
Chipanga swore by the gods that the youths would do anything possible to make sure President Mugabe does not leave office unless by death.
He said ructions in the party were being fomented by older members who have fed at the President’s trough for a long time, and now want him to go at the expense of the party youths who have just set themselves at the king’s table.
He even produced a US$20 note, inviting bets from anyone who would dare challenge the idea that President Mugabe would die in office.
And, as expected, no one came forth, prompting Chipanga to chant: “President Mugabe will rule till death do us part.”
The First Lady went even further to suggest that President Mugabe was so irreplaceable that he would practically rule the country even after death.
“We want you to lead this country from the grave, while you lie at the National Heroes’ Acre,” said the First Lady, to thunderous applause from the audience.
A few were, however, visibly shocked.
Their speeches were carefully coordinated and complemented each other.
This was a big statement considering the jockeying for his job from both within and outside ZANU-PF.
Within the party, factions have been fighting to position themselves to take over from him.
Outside, opposition parties, including the one now being led by his former long-serving lieutenant, Joice Mujuru, are circling overhead like a swarm of hungry vultures, ready to pounce.
There is now danger from all directions, and the million man march was meant to send a message that President Mugabe remained invincible, and there to stay.
It followed a protest march by the MDC-T that attracted about 2000 people.
The MDC-T still poses the biggest possible threat to President Mugabe’s presidency.
The party has planned another protest march in Bulawayo tomorrow, while others would be held in the coming months in different places leading to the crunch 2018 general elections. But they are currently without Tsvangirai, who is hospitalised in a South African hospital.
It can be argued that with the million man march, President Mugabe has sent a message to the world that he is still ahead of the game when it comes to mobilisation of the masses.
Whether or not the march or rally on Wednesday sounded the trumpet for the next general election, is a matter for another day, but President Mugabe’s fighting tone at the event was a clear sign that he is definitely readying himself for the big contest, be it from within or outside ZANU-PF.
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