By Brenna Matendere
THE State has beefed up security in Gweru ahead of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s visit, with anti-riot water cannons being rolled into the city centre to prevent any chances of civil disobedience.
Mnangagwa will be the guest of honour at this month’s National Clean-Up campaign in the city today, where he is expected to join ordinary citizens for the routine exercise. Every first Friday of the month is now a clean-up day after the President set it as policy.
Mayor Josiah Makombe confirmed Mnangagwa’s visit.
“We are a city that prides itself in cleanliness and so like all the other citizens, we will be cleaning our city tomorrow (today). I have been formally informed that President Mnangagwa will be joining us in the routine exercise. As always, people should embrace the idea of cleanliness and clean their areas tomorrow, not only at Kudzanayi rank, but in the
entirety of the city,” he said.
When NewsDay visited Kudzanayi Bus Terminus, which is the scheduled venue for the campaign, there was a heavy State security presence, with vendors who operate from terminus complaining
of their heavy-handedness. They said they had been frisked.
“Plain-cloth security people have been moving around the rank, saying tomorrow we must behave when the President arrives here. Some of us have been searched and our stalls were turned upside down. I think they suspect we might protest when the President comes due to the economic hardships we are facing,” said one vendor who identified himself as Takanyi Maraira.
Another vendor said he hoped the President would get first-hand experience of the hardships the people were facing.
“There is no business because people do not have money to spend. If we are given an opportunity to speak, we will say such things,” another vendor said.
Gweru is an MDC stronghold. The opposition party has held the Gweru Urban seat since 2000, while surrounding constituencies like Mkoba and Chiundura also belong to the Nelson Chamisa-led formation.
During the January fuel hike protests, hundreds of people took to the streets to express anger on the move, which was announced by Mnangagwa himself.
This led to the arrests of senior MDC officials like organising secretary Amos Chibaya and former youth assembly provincial leader Livingstone Chimina.