HARARE – The usually sleepy town of Chinhoyi on Thursday roared to life as multitudes flocked to Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT) where President Robert Mugabe was holding a rally.
The number of people at the rally was not surprising per se, considering that Chinhoyi is the provincial capital of Mashonaland West.
Some of the people were bussed from as far as Karoi, Magunje, Zvimba and Kariba to attend the occasion.
Mugabe also hails from the province, which has remained one of his strongholds.
Apart from being a gateway to Harare and Chirundu, the city is historic as this is where the first battle of the second Chimurenga was fought by the “famous seven” heroes and also boasts tourist attractions like the sacred Chinhoyi Caves.
But amidst all the activities that could take place in such an idyllic city, all roads led to CUT where Mugabe was holding his rally.
Business literally came to a standstill. Market stalls all the way from Banket were empty as owners were forced to attend the rally at the university grounds.
When the Daily News crew arrived at CUT around 12 pm, the university grounds were packed with people donning party caps, T-shirts, wrappers bearing Mugabe’s portrait.
Mugabe arrived at approximately 1pm to a thunderous applause.
And as has become the norm, he was led through a small stair case into an open pick-up truck which drove around as he greeted supporters.
The crowd took about 30 minutes to settle down while party commissar and minister of Information Webster Shamu gave welcome remarks.
At around 2 pm, Mugabe took to the podium where he delivered a two-and-half hour history lesson.
Many started trickling out of the stadium when he began to speak.
Shamu tried to persuade people not to leave but his words fell on deaf ears.
The 89-year-old, who has held on to power since the country attained independence in 1980, started by talking about how the first Chimurenga battle was fought in Chinhoyi.
He spoke passionately about how the British and Americans had reneged on their agreement to fund compensation for land acquisition.
Mugabe characteristically launched a flurry of insults on former United States President George Bush and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair whom he referred to as “blooming fools.”
He even went on to accuse them of trying to interfere with the elections which will be held in less than two weeks.
“We are our own deciders, we decide on our own destiny, so please keep your hands off. We are inviting observers, we have already invited well-meaning friends, ill-meaning friends we can never invite and the United States we can never invite as long as sanctions continue to be a burden on our people,” Mugabe said.
He added that; “You are still democratically filthy, there is a lot of racism in your country and your jails are filled with black people.”
The Zanu PF strong man also attacked the European Union, which he said was not qualified to observe the forthcoming elections which also might be his last.
“Europeans of the EU, you are not qualified to be observers … sorry, the rest of the world we have nothing to complain about even Japan,” he said.
And as has become norm during his long winding lectures, the 89-year-old, who was leaning on the podium for support, became a little muddled up.
He referred to the EU as the AU; “We say no to the US, we say no to the countries of the African Union (AU)….ah what did I just say…. the AU has already sent people, I meant EU…Sadc, Comesa, East and Central Africa are free to send observers.”
Medical experts say memory lapses are normally associated with dementia, a condition common to most people of his age.
But his insults were not only targeted at the West as he took a swipe at yet another woman, Marian Chombo, ex-wife of Local government minister Ignatius Chombo.
Two weeks ago, Mugabe insulted South African President Jacob Zuma’s international relations advisor, Lindiwe Zulu, whom he described as an “idiotic street” woman.
This time Mugabe turned to Marian.
She became his target as he slammed his party members over the conduct of primary elections which saw some candidates who failed to sail through in the elections file applications as independent candidates.
“Kuno kuna maiMarian, vachinezita rekuti Chombo here? Ko handiti vakarambana nemurume vakada kukwikwidzana naye party ika varamba ka futi semumiriri haina kuvaramba senhengo asi vakazoti pakati apa ndokuti ini ndiri Marian Chombo.
“Ndinomira chete kukwikwidzana naChombo iyeye tisvitsane kutsime vakambonzwa murume anoenda kutsime ndiani? Aiwa tibvire apa nanga nanga nemurume akanyarara. (Here we have Marian; she still using Chombo’s name. Was she not divorced? And now she is contesting against a man who divorced her. Even the party refused to have her represent it but she said ‘no’ because my name is Marian Chombo, I will contest Chombo who is quiet…get lost).
“Wakakundwa ka wakakundwa. Izvi zvomumba menyu hatina kuzvipindira asi izvi ndezve mumba medu meZimbabwe, meZanu PF. Iwe, hatidi kunyonganiswa isu. Hatidi hatidi zazira muromo wako iwowo ne pfungwa dzako idzodzo ngadzibva dzadzima. Mubatsireyi mudzimai uyu,” (You were beaten fair and square. We did not interfere with your domestic issues but now we are interfering because it concerns Zimbabwe and Zanu PF … we do not want to be divided close your mouth and your mind…please help this woman),” Mugabe said to thunderous applause.
Mugabe did not stop and then took a swipe at Bishop of Canterbury Rowan Martin of the Anglican Church whom he said issued marriage licences to gay people.
Mugabe has always referred to gay people as being worse than dogs and pigs.