President Robert Mugabe was on Friday humiliated by a legion of his supporters who walked out on him at a youth rally in Marondera during his long and uninspiring speech that skirted on real problems facing the nation.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The “protest” reached the climax when the 93-year-old ruler retreated to the usual rhetoric, attacking party members jockeying for power, ignoring the economic and cash challenges debilitating the nation.
Mugabe addressed thousands of supporters at the inaugural Presidential Youth Interface Rallies meant to mobilise youths to register for 2018 harmonised elections, but the majority ended up leaving approximately 30 minutes into his speech that lasted more than one hour and 40 minutes.
Despite an earlier announcement before Mugabe’s address instructing everyone to remain seated until the end of the programme, many lost patience and left, a clear sign that the 93-year-old failed to excite the crowd.
As more people streamed off, the high table became restless, with senior officials fidgeting on their seats while others were passing instructions to provincial youth chairpersons and others to go and talk to the people to stop the embarrassment.
National Youths Services (NYS) officers and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) details had a torrid time trying to force people to stay but to no avail.
The Standard witnessed NYS officers, who were later planted into the crowd; threatening the Zanu PF supporters with unspecified action should they continue leaving, but that didn’t help the situation.
Zanu PF youth chairpersons and legislators deployed to maintain order dismally failed as people gave various reasons for leaving, something unheard of in Zanu PF circles.
This will likely pile pressure on Zanu PF with regards to how the president is going to conduct his rallies.
Zanu PF youth leader, Kudzanayi Chipanga refused to comment on Friday’s events, referring questions to the party’s spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo who was not reachable.
But the Youth and Indigenisation minister Patrick Zhuwao said the walk out was inconsequential.
“One of the things that you must understand very clearly is the dynamics of political rallies and the logistics around. There are a lot of people that travel from very long distances and there is transport that is used to do more than one trip,” he said.
“My experience with political rallies is that drivers when they start to look at the journeys that they have to take people back, in some instances they ask people to come out early but that is inconsequential because the people took a day off, woke up early and sat and listened to the president.”
He said it was unwise for the opposition to focus on such immaterial issues as they would fall in the next elections.
“Unfortunately, some of our colleagues within the opposition pick up at inconsequential issues and then get surprised when they are walloped by Zanu PF because they will be focusing on non-issues and the magnificent organising of the youth league,” Zhuwao said.
In a bid to entice the youths ahead of the plebiscite, Mugabe threatened to take over white-owned farms in Mashonaland East province for redistribution to the youths.
“This province had protected whites in the farms. This is the only problem we have with Mashonaland East, I don’t know whether they didn’t see it but [Ray] Kaukonde was the resident minister here,” he said.
“He was the one protecting the whites but we realised there are 73 farms owned by whites. Those farms are the ones we are looking at for those who want farms.”
Mugabe said the farms would be made smaller to accommodate a lot of people while also saying the youths might lack capacity to manage bigger farms.