GWANDA — Scores of Zanu PF supporters, including children, bussed to attended President Robert Mugabe’s star rally on Saturday, were forced to sleep outside Phelandaba Stadium on empty stomachs after being abandoned by trucks that ferried them into Gwanda.
Report by Albert Ncube
Tens of thousands of party supporters bussed from all the districts of Matabeleland South, Matabeleland North and Bulawayo had thronged the stadium to listen to their leader, but left without eating as there was no prepared food.
Some had reportedly left their bases as early as 2am.
The Zimbabwe Red Crosss Society attended to numerous cases of people collapsing due to hunger and fatigue as they had waited for almost six hours for Mugabe’s arrival. The situation was made worse by police who refused to allow supporters to leave the stadium before and during Mugabe’s address to buy food from nearby shops.
Our Bulawayo Bureau witnessed Zanu PF supporters making fires outside the stadium on Saturday evening as they waited for vehicles to take them to their respective bases.
“The party must not do this to us, we have nothing to eat and now we are sleeping in the open when it is so cold,” said one woman as she fetched some firewood. “We will take our votes elsewhere if we are going to be treated like this.”
The supporters, mainly from West Nicholson, Mashure and Jonsly resettlement areas, could be seen milling outside the party’s offices yesterday morning waiting for transport.
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A Forbes and Thompson Scania bus, registration number AAS 5241, finally ferried the supporters at midday yesterday after they had lunch at Strides Restaurant, a food outlet belonging to Zanu PF Gwanda Central aspiring candidate Edson Gumbo.
Some supporters missed their vehicles as they stampeded for food donated by the First Lady Grace Mugabe and had to dig deep into their pockets to return to their homes while others braved the chilly weather and walked to resettlement areas adjacent to Gwanda town.
Zanu PF is reportedly broke and its candidates are battling to meet campaign costs.