POLITICAL tension is reportedly mounting ahead of President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF youth rally in Mutare on Friday, with opposition parties distributing anti-Mugabe flyers and mobilising residents to snub the event.
BY KENNETH NYANGANI/OBEY MANAYITI
This comes amid threats by ruling party youths to shut down all businesses in Mutare, commandeer school buses to carry Zanu PF supporters and frogmarch people to Sakubva Stadium for the rally.
National Constitutional Assembly Manicaland provincial spokesperson David Mukunda said opposition parties were working around the clock urging residents to ignore Mugabe’s rally.
“We are printing flyers encouraging people not to attend the rally, especially in Mutare, but I know they are going to be bussed,” he said.
MDC-T provincial spokesperson Trevor Saruwaka urged Mutare residents to resist Zanu PF attempts to frogmarch them to the rally.
“My message to the people of Mutare and Manicaland is that it’s high time we showed our true colours and not allow ourselves to be abused anymore,” he said.
“Continue with activities to fend for your families, instead of attending the ceremony signifying the death of our country.
“Do not attend that meeting if you do not feel you like it.”
Zimbabwe People First interim spokesperson Patrick Chitaka said: “Mugabe is free to come to Mutare anytime he wants, but we are against a situation where people will be herded to the stadium like cattle.
“They (Zanu PF youths) are trying to shore up their numbers. Zanu PF will never change its behaviour.”
People’s Democratic Party spokesperson Jacob Mafume said it was unconstitutional for Zanu PF to coerce people to attend its campaign rallies.
“Zanu PF has force-marched Zimbabweans into poverty and extreme suffering and we must get to a point where we say enough is enough,” he said.
Retired Anglican bishop and United Mutare Residents and Ratepayers’ Trust director Sebastian Bakare said it was unethical for the ruling party to force people to attend Mugabe’s rally.
“It seems Zanu PF is taking people for granted. Why can’t they host such meetings on Saturdays and Sundays when people are not going to work?” he said.
“It’s unethical for Zanu PF to order that shops should close. Our economy is going down and they want our shops to close. Almost 80% of Mutare’s population is unemployed and stopping those few people from going to work to support their families is very sad. This should be stopped.”
Contacted for comment, Zanu PF youth leader Kudzanai Chipanga urged ruling party supporters to remain calm and resist opposition attempts to allegedly trigger violence before and on the day of the rally.
“Since their leader has already accepted defeat, they know Zanu PF will be difficult to defeat. We urge our members to remain calm and shun violence,” he said.
“We want a soft landing for our President. The opposition parties are trying to provoke us so that we retaliate, but we are going to leave the job to the police.
“They are trying to come up with funny initiatives and we are not going to fall into the trap.
“We do not have violence on our itinerary or calendar, but we have got massive mobilising activities on our calendar. Our table is full. We are carrying on with our activities.”