FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe’s allies yesterday claimed that they had mobilised more than 100 000 to attend a solidarity march organised for her in Harare today.
BY OBEY MANAYITI
The allies are planning to march from various centres to the Zanu PF headquarters in a show of support following her cross-border plight after she allegedly bashed a 20-year-old South African model, Gabriella Engels, found partying with her two sons.
After the incident, Grace escaped prosecution after she was granted diplomatic immunity by the South African government before her husband, President Robert Mugabe, escorted her back home.
One of the organisers and leader of a splinter war veterans group, George Mlala, said although they started off as war veterans, party organs had expressed interest and they were now expecting 100 000 people to attend.
“This is a war veterans’ initiative and we are only about 30 000 in the whole country, but there is growing interest from the party now, so we have increased our expectation to about 100 000 people,” he said.
“They will be coming from all the 10 provinces and we are saying everyone tomorrow in Harare.
“We will be at the party headquarters, there will be no marching.
“This programme has generated interest in many people and our genuine people are prepared to assist in terms of transport for our people to come to Harare.”
Mlala said the solidarity march was also meant to thank the First Lady for her resilience and taking care of President Mugabe.
Provincial youth chairpersons, who spoke to NewsDay yesterday, said they had secured lorries to ferry supporters to Harare.
Some said they expect the crowd to be similar to that of last year’s million-man march.
The solidarity march has, however, attracted mixed reactions, with some describing it as a waste of resources.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association spokesperson, Douglas Mahiya, said: “People who are cowards and who cannot stand by principle always do such things.
“A sound politician doesn’t need somebody else to solidify with you.
“It means you are liquid and when you are liquid, it means you are a vacillating leader.”
Zimbabwe Youth Action Platform leader, Tonderai Chidawa weighed in dismissing the solidarity march as waste of time.
Meanwhile, opposition supporters under the banner of National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera) said they would defy a police ban and continue with their planned demonstration at the South African embassy today to express their anger over Pretoria’s decision to grant Grace diplomatic immunity.
“The demonstration will proceed accordingly from 10am to 1pm.
“The required clarifications have since been done as per the response of the police and they have indicated that they will avail their response early in the morning.
“As a critical advocate of reform and democratisation, the youths will march to the embassy tomorrow (today) to demand a response from the ambassador,” one of the organisers, Davis Mukushwa, said.
“We also condemn attempts by Zanu PF to do a counter march. Solidarity with brutality and impunity is sheer disregard for the welfare and justice for Gabriella Engels, who is nursing injuries.”