BY OBEY MANAYITI/RICHARD CHIDZA
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa has reportedly shelved plans by the Zanu PF youth league to march in support of his Presidency because of the astronomical budget put forward to ferry supporters from across the country amid reports that some within the ruling party fear the timing would be insensitive to the current challenges facing the nation.
Although the youth league has been given full mandate to mobilise resources for the event and to get assistance from the main wing, the planned march, which could cost millions of dollars, is facing resistance on many fronts.
According to a letter signed by Zanu PF national commissar, Engelbert Rugeje, the rally is aimed at gathering some 300 000 Zanu PF supporters in Harare.
“You are instructed to convene provincial co-ordinating committees tomorrow February 26 to be addressed by the most senior party members on the following matters: The need to mobilise adequate resources to transport a minimum of 30 000 people from your province to Harare to participate in the solidarity march in support of HE (His Excellency) the
President Cde ED Mnangagwa on March 2, 2019,” Rugeje’s letter dated February 25, reads.
The retired general was not available for comment yesterday.
According to Rugeje, the Zanu PF commissariat was going to allocate 10 000 litres of fuel to Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, 15 000 to Harare, the same quantity to
Manicaland and Midlands, 18 750 to Mashonaland East the same quantity to Mashonaland West, Central and Masvingo.
This would translate to nearly $500 000 worth of fuel. But highly-placed sources said Mnangagwa, desperate to get national buy-in for his reform agenda, requested that the budget be revised downwards.
“The President does not want to project an image of unnecessary extravagance, so he asked that the budget be re-looked at. His argument was that the party must explain why there is need to bring 270 000 people from other provinces to Harare for a rally,” NewsDay heard from one source.
Zanu PF finance secretary, Patrick Chinamasa referred questions to party spokesperson, Simon Khaya Moyo, who said the party will throw its weight behind the event.
“It’s a solidarity rally by the youth league and is fully supported by the party. I would not know finer details or whether the President was not happy with the budget, the youth league should be able to clarify that,” Khaya Moyo said.
National youth league commissar, Godfrey Tsenengamu could not be drawn into commenting on the budget issue, but insisted that the solidarity march will be happening next weekend.
He said those that are purportedly opposing the programme might be remnants of Zanu PF’s G40 or Gamatox factions.
“I cannot comment on the alleged bloated cost of the rally. As commissar, my job is to organise people. I did and (I) am still doing that. As regards the expenditure for the event, please check with the national secretary for administration or secretary for finance,” he said.
Tsenengamu said the programme was necessary because they felt Mnangagwa was under siege.
“We believe our leader is under attack, locally and internationally. There are countries like the USA [United States], who are always criticising him and we need to show support for our leader. Locally, we have parties that are talking about the transitional government,” he said.
“We are gathering to show support for our leader. He won the elections and he cannot be distracted by noise coming from other areas. We will always have Gamatox and G40 remnants and it is not surprising that we will have dissenting voices within the party, but we will not agree at the same time, all the times.”
The cancellation of the party event comes at a time there is growing tension within Zanu PF with other officials questioning the ability of Mnangagwa to deal with the worsening socio-economic and political crises.
Others are arguing that the solidarity march, which is likely to gobble millions of dollars, is an unnecessary move that will only bring back memories of “Mugabe’s ruinous days”.
However, Tsenengamu said: “If there are people in Zanu PF, who are opposed to this event, they must use internal mechanisms to address it. Within the party, there are organs to deal with such issues so that we focus on external factors that are opposing our President.
“This is a youth league programme and we have a right to do our programmes uninterrupted. If those that are not happy are from the main wing or women’s league then they must follow laid down channels to register their displeasure.”