PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa will today address defining rallies of their political lives a stone’s throw from each other ahead of elections on Monday.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/
Mnangagwa, according to Zanu PF legal secretary, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana, will use the rally to deliver his victory speech before the elections at the National Sports Stadium (NSS), the venue of his inauguration last November.
“His Excellency is going to give his victory speech, rallying his troops for the final lap in his victory speech. He will be telling us exactly how he is going to be running the country in the next five years, that’s what he is going to be telling his supporters,” Mangwana said.
On the other hand, Chamisa will take his campaign to Freedom Square, the arena of the famous, Crossover Rally which was addressed by his predecessor, the late Morgan Tsvangirai a couple of years ago.
With confidence high up in his camp, Chamisa’s team said the rally will signify the burying of 38 years of Zanu PF mis-governance and sow seeds of a new trajectory both economically and politically.
One of the MDC Alliance principals, Tendai Biti was upbeat about the election prospects, saying the rally would be Mnangagwa’s farewell party except he was not invited.
“We are going to make a statement that Zanu PF is losing, that Mnangagwa is going to be the former President of Zimbabwe come Tuesday. We are going to make a statement on the plans of the future how we are climbing into the horizon of change and taking with us all the people of Zimbabwe,” Biti said.
The two political parties were clear that violence will not be on the agenda despite the proximity of the venue of the two rallies.
“We are not aware that Zanu PF is holding its rally at the NSS, but it doesn’t matter to us. They are a party of history; they will be history come Monday. Zimbabweans are going to delete them. Their rally will not affect us, nobody supports them, nobody likes them, they will have to force people,” Biti said.
But Mangwana sang from a different hymn book, saying they were expecting over 150 000 people at the 60 000 capacity stadium for the rally.
“We are expecting quite a lot of people to come in excess of 150 000 people to be addressed. We did not choose NSS in particular, but just an excessive of political tolerance. We applied for the other venues we heard that the MDC-T had applied for the next venue (and) we had to choose the next one available,” Mangwana said.
Zanu PF is reportedly demanding cash-strapped parastatals to finance the hiring of buses to ferry party supporters from the country’s 10 provinces to Mnangagwa’s final rally.
Party officials disclosed that Zanu PF forced parastatals to finance the hiring of 40 buses for each province as Mnangagwa battles for popularity contest with 40-year-old Chamisa.
Zanu PF national spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo professed ignorance of the development, but was optimistic that the rally would be oversubscribed.
“The rally will be well attended, that I can confirm. About hiring of buses, I don’t know anything about that. I am in Matabeleland now campaigning,” Khaya Moyo said.
A well-informed source revealed: “The party has been pressuring parastatals to fund the rally. They know Chamisa has a strong following in urban centres and they have hired about 400 buses to make sure that Mnangagwa won’t be embarrassed.”
Some transport companies were reportedly forced to abandon the lucrative Harare-Johannesburg routes after Zanu PF hired all their buses.
NewsDay Weekender understands that after the rally, Mnangagwa will meet women voters at the Harare International Conference in the afternoon as he concludes his quest to retain power in Monday’s polls.
According to messages circulating on social media mobilising women to attend the meeting with Mnangagwa, the meeting is a non-partisan event for all women regardless of political affiliation.
“As women constitute a huge chunk of our population and thus can equally play important roles in our politics, economy, policy-making,” the messages read.
“The emancipation of everyone, including women, has been at the core of HE’s (Mnangagwa) objectives in the new dispensation. He launched a women’s bank – an indication of his commitment towards women’s empowerment.
“The President has also championed and presided over many women’s projects. Women, however, still encounter some challenges that the President is not knowledgeable of.”