Zanu PF is on edge as its 15th annual conference roars into life in the resort town of Victoria Falls to be officially opened by party leader President Robert Mugabe today.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA/KENNETH NYANGANI
The usually sleepy town is crawling with security details and an elaborate set-up seemed to have been put in place including an accreditation centre that is placed almost a kilometre away from the venue.
Sources said security was on high alert even during the central committee meeting in Harare ahead of the yearly indaba amid fears the factionalism gnawing at the former liberation movement could explode into open fistfights.
The accreditation centre has been cited at the entrance to the plush Elephant Hills Hotel, while the maid marquee at which the conference proceedings will take place is at the back of the hotel some 800 metres away overlooking the Zambezi River.
“It is to do with security. Nobody will be allowed to go direct to the conference venue because there are fears that the warring factions might hire thugs to disrupt the conference,” NewsDay heard.
Victoria Falls’ financial fortunes have been transformed overnight with even ordinary home owners cashing in on the Zanu PF jamboree.
Private homes in run-down residential areas such as Chinotimba and Mkhosana have been turned into mini-bed and breakfast outlets letting out the homes to hordes of activists and other visitors for princely sums.
With at least 6 000 Zanu PF delegates expected to descend on the tourist resort for the next three days, boarding rates have doubled.
“Normally lodges charge $50 per room per person, but this has gone up to $100 for the period of the conference. It is a once-in-a-lifetime windfall that everybody would want to benefit from and things are expensive in this town. When you people are gone, everything goes back to normal again,” said an unidentified woman from the poor neighbourhood of Mkhosana.
Meanwhile, Zanu PF Manicaland youth members yesterday passed votes of no-confidence against three of its executive members for allegedly fanning factionalism in the province.
A total of 22 members out the 36 members in the executive reportedly passed votes of no-confidence against chairman Kelvin Manyengavana, secretary for finance Gertrude Mutandi, and political commissar Washington Zivivi.