CHINHOYI — Scores of Zanu PF supporters yesterday walked out on President Robert Mugabe while he was halfway through his two-and-a-half-hour-long speech loaded with historical lectures on the liberation struggle, forcing party commissariat Webster Shamu to plead with them not to “embarrass” their leader.
REPORT BY MOSES MATENGA
Shamu chided them to desist from leaving as it was embarrassing in front of Mugabe.
Mugabe made the long historical lectures to a crowd of more than 15 000 that thronged Chinhoyi University of Technology grounds, resulting in many of them walking out.
Shamu said: “Please take your seats. You are now embarrassing us, people of Mashonaland West.”
Despite his calls for the restless crowd to sit out Mugabe’s address, there was unease and notes could be seen written and passed on to Mugabe.
Mugabe spoke for over an hour and a half narrating the history of the country, touching on colonisation, the role played by Mbuya Nehanda and how the nationalists decided to take up arms to fight the settler regime.
He rarely spoke on the party manifesto centred on indigenisation, but focused on attacking former United States Presidents George Bush Jnr and Ronald Reagan and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.
He went on to attack homosexuals, saying there were worse than dogs and birds.
Supporters started arriving as early as 7am, but had to wait until 1.12pm for Mugabe’s arrival.
Mugabe started his address at 1.41pm and ended two-and-a-half hours later.
In his speech, Mugabe touched on the infighting within Zanu PF and the controversy surrounding special voting this week, where thousands of members of the uniformed forces failed to cast their ballots.
On special voting, Mugabe said the issue would be discussed to decide whether those who did not vote could be allowed to do so.
“We saw on the special vote that people did not know where to vote. Others who came from Beitbridge thought they would vote where they were stationed. There was confusion. I do not know if they will be allowed to vote on July 31. I was reading in the newspapers (NewsDay) that those special voters will not vote during ordinary ballot voting days, but I think we made a mistake because we did not educate our people. We will look to see if we can address that,” Mugabe said.
He castigated losing Zanu PF primary election candidates now standing as independents and said they had automatically expelled themselves from the party.
He singled out Marian Chombo, the ex-wife of Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo.
“We had our primary elections, but some of those who lost have said they will stand as independent candidates. By so doing, they expelled themselves from the party and are no longer members of the party. Therefore, remove all party regalia because you cannot say you are for President Mugabe when you are saying forward with yourself.
“Secondly, they told youths and relatives who support them that they should not respect the one who was voted for and encouraged their supporters to cast protest votes. It is embarrassing and even my own relatives in Mazvikadei are doing the same and it is embarrassing,” he said.
Mugabe continued: “If you lose, you lose. Let us look forward. You are not the party. The party is still moving forward and so support the party. To those who lost — I do not know how many you are. There is Marian Chombo — is she still a Chombo? She is refusing to be ditched yet she was ditched by the party. She is saying she will stand against Chombo — tibvire apa (get away), you lost. We did not involve ourselves in your disputes (with Chombo), but this is our Zimbabwe.”
The President urged MDC-T leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai not to castigate the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, but to work and assist the commission to deliver peaceful and credible polls.