AMID worsening poverty, Zanu PF will early next month splash millions on a solidarity rally for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, whose administration is accused of human rights abuses and failing to stabilise the economy.
Allies of the president are already knocking at the doors of the corporate sector for donations to fund the event, which comes at a time when the scourge of factionalism has reared its ugly head yet again in the ruling party. Each of the ruling party’s 10 provincial structures has been instructed to mobilise a minimum of 30 000 people to attend the mega rally set for what was once known as the Freedom Square in Harare on Saturday.
Nearly 150 000 litres of fuel would be used to oil the fleet of buses being mobilised by the Zanu PF commissariat department to ferry party supporters to Harare. Add the cost of accommodation and food, the ruling party is likely to fork out close to $2 million, although insiders claim that the budget has been trimmed down to $900 000.
In a circular to provincial chairpersons, the party
political commissar Engelbert Rugeje said Mnangagwa will address the rally.
According to the circular, the commissariat department will allocate the fuel as follows: Bulawayo (10 000 litres); Harare (15 000 litres); Mashonaland East (18 750 litres); Mashonaland West (18 750 litres); Masvingo (18 750 litres); Matabeleland South (20 000 litres); Matabeleland North (20 000 litres) and Midlands (15 000 litres).
Mashonaland Central and Manicaland will also be allocated fuel.
“Further to that, the department is organising the feeding plan for the delegates in Harare. However, provinces are advised to feed the delegates before departure. Although the programme is being spearheaded by the national youth league, it has been upgraded to a national event. We call upon organs of the party to give maximum support,” reads the circular in part.
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya-Moyo confirmed that the party’s youths are set to march in Harare in solidarity with Mnangagwa.
“It’s an event that is being organised by the youths but which the party fully supports,” he said before referring questions to the youth league. Zanu PF youth league secretary for the commissariat Godfrey Tsenengamu said nearly all the provinces are geared up for the march and rally.
“Our president is under siege locally and internationally; you have heard statements from Europe and America and also from the MDC. We saw those demonstrations in January, they were violent and meant to remove our leader so it is against this background that we are coming in to say our leader is legitimate, we are doing this to show strength in our numbers,” he said.
“There is no organisation that does not spend. All the political parties are spending, some actually have had more events than us and they must tell us where they got their funding from. Our event is national; we have youths who are coming from across the country because it is a national event so it is inevitable that we will spend big,” added Tsenengamu.
Analysts said Zanu PF was being extravagant at a time when over five million people are in need of food aid.
Political analyst Maxwell Saungweme said the obscene spending by Zanu PF shows a leadership that is out of touch with reality.
He said the opposition also suffers from the same type of politics.
“It shows our leaders have wrong priorities. They like grandstanding, live in opulence amidst poverty and penury, and display obscene wealth in a sea of misery. We have wring people, with wrong priorities at the top. Our politicians have very little to offer, they would rather show off, grandstand and spend on useless rallies. It’s a scourge in both ruling and main opposition party,” said Saungweme.
International Crisis Group director Piers Pigou said it would be interesting to see how Zanu PF justifies such expenditure in current circumstances.
“It looks like a default setting in terms of past rote practices of choreographed praise-singing, intended to demonstrate a major show of strength in the wake of the repression that has received so much negative publicity,” said Pigou.