FIRST Lady Grace Mugabe has organised a massive campaign rally, possibly early next month, with members of various apostolic sects at Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare, as she extends her tentacles ahead of the Zanu PF extraordinary congress set for December this year.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
The rally, which is being organised by former Zanu PF central committee member and patron of the newly-formed Zimbabwe Amalgamated Churches Council, Jimayi Muduvuri, is expected to be attended by over 200 000 apostolic sect followers.
Although NewsDay understands that Grace has not yet confirmed the date for the rally, the sect members were reportedly pushing for the meeting to be held next week.
NewsDay heard that Muduvuri officially invited Grace last Friday with her handlers at State House reportedly still consulting on the proposed date, amid reports that November 1 had been set as the provisional date for the rally.
Muduvuri was not reachable for comment yesterday, but the sect’s national co-ordinator Emmanuel Muzhangiri confirmed the development, saying they were hoping to be addressed by both the First Lady and President Robert Mugabe.
“The date has not yet been confirmed, but we are meeting the First Family at Zimbabwe Grounds possibly early November,” Muzhangiri said.
“We are a big organisation and we hope to bring about 200 000 members to meet the First Family. We basically want to thank the President for the peace in the country, his support for agriculture through the Presidential Inputs Scheme and for allowing us the freedom of worship we are enjoying in the country.”
He added: “We will also take the opportunity to express our concerns that include requesting the President that all church members also benefit from the Presidential Inputs Scheme that, together with last year’s good rains, has made the country food-secure.”
Well-placed sources told NewsDay that Muduvuri had over the past few weeks been traversing the length and breadth of the country meeting church leaders from Marange, Zion Christian Church (ZCC) and other apostolic and Pentecostal sects to ensure maximum turnout at the planned rally.
ZCC leader Nehemiah Mutendi, a staunch Zanu PF supporter, has reportedly been roped in as the master of ceremonies at the rally that Mugabe would use to lure the more than three million voters believed to be locked in churches as the ruling party targets over half a million voters in every province.
Zanu PF has intensified its efforts to reach churches since last month with Harare provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe invading a Johane Masowe Church gathering in Kuwadzana under the guise of voter registration.
After the gathering, Mashayamombe said the church had requested to be addressed by Grace. He said Harare alone had pledged to assemble a gathering of over 70 000 members.
“The meeting was successful and the church requested to be addressed by First Lady Grace Mugabe,” Mashayamombe said then.
“They promised to gather about 70 000 delegates for the address. We had gone there to request them to register to vote and thank them for their continued support for President Mugabe.”
In the run-up to past elections, Zanu PF has always used the Church as its favourite hunting ground with Mugabe and his top officials leading the campaign.