HARARE – A poor crowd has turned up for the launch of Zanu PF’s manifesto at Zimbabwe grounds Friday in Highfield notwithstanding the presence of President Robert Mugabe and his top cronies.
The former ruling party tried to spice up the event by roping in chart-topping artists such as Sulumani Chimbetu, Jah Prayzah and Mathias Mhere.
The sparse crowd – dressed in yellow T–shirts and green caps – is an exact antithesis of the bumper crowd that graced the stadium in 1980 when Mugabe returned from the bush war.
In the build up to the much hyped conference, the former ruling party had claimed that it will fill up the stadium reminiscent of the 1980 spectacle.
Mugabe and other cadres were welcomed at Zimbabwe Grounds on January 27, 1980 by a crowd estimated at 1, 6 million by the Zanu-PF information and publicity department, 200 000 by BBC, 150 000 by the Rhodesian police and 1 million, with a safety margin of 25 percent, by people who said they arrived at the figure by enlarging aerial photographs and calculating crowd density.
Despite bussing in supporters through transport provided by the Urban Transporters Association of Zimbabwe which provided 150 kombis to ferry people to Zimbabwe Grounds, the turnout was poor on Friday.
Zanu PF’s political commissar Webster Shamu said Mugabe and his wife Grace bought the party regalia.