A few hours after Zanu PF leader President Robert Mugabe fumed over the starving of his party youths, Harare International Conference Centre, venue of the youth congress, was turned into a huge party where food and drink flowed endlessly.
BY MOSES MATENGA
The youths who were said to have gone two days without being fed, ate like there was no tomorrow, but still could not finish the food.
In their thousands, the youths arrived in Harare on Thursday evening, some much earlier in the day only to find there was no food for them at the venue of the congress or at the Harare Polytechnic and at Belvedere Teachers’ college where they were accommodated.
A furious Mugabe said he had been told that the youths had gone to bed on empty stomachs on the day of their arrival and had also started the following day without breakfast.
“I was informed that the people, apart from the delay in transport, were not fed. We are failing to provide food to the people? So I said to Amai Mugabe (Grace), we have maize, 1 000 tonnes, they can go and take.
“People need meat, they can go and take cattle they will find there, either 20 or 30. We will stop selling milk from our dairy farm and the milk will come here,” Mugabe said in his address to the youths.
He said he was shocked by the inept attitude by the party politburo and Central Committee members who failed to organise the conference and avoid the embarrassing episode where youths went hungry for close to two days.
When The Standard visited Harare Polytechnic on Friday evening, hundreds of youths, pondering their next move sat outside the hostels while others chose to go and sleep after contributing their few dollars to buy bread and drinks.
However, the story was totally different at the HICC where food was in abundance with just a handful of delegates enjoying the feast.
Apparently because of poor coordination and communication, many youths had gone to sleep or to explore Harare’s night life without knowing there was food galore in the offing at the venue of the congress.
“You cannot finish the food that is here even if you want to take bucketfuls of takeaways,” said a group of youths with armfuls of food, drinks and yoghurt from the Gushungo Dairy Farm.
It was not clear whether the food they were eating was sourced by the party after Mugabe’s outburst or whether it came as a result of the First Family intervention.
“So they were waiting for Gushungo to scold them to organise food?” asked one of the youths.
However, given the time that the food was organised, prepared and cooked, it is highly unlikely that it came from the 1 000 tonnes of maize and 30 beasts that the President had pledged barely two hours earlier.
Slowly however, after phone calls to their colleagues, the place was teeming with youths most of them looking tipsy, after their city adventures.
Soon, the tents from where the food was being served were congested as groups of rowdy youths sought to fight for food, most of which at the end of the day remained uneaten up to midnight.
“We had complained too much, that’s why this happened. We were starving comrades,” said a visibly sated youth in a Manyika accent as he enjoyed yoghurt.