HARARE – All eyes will be on President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF, as the party mounts its so-called million-man march in Harare on Wednesday — which supporters of embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa see as targeted at the Midlands godfather.
After the MDC’s massive show of force last month, when former prime minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his supporters painted the capital city red, the ruling party will be keen to demonstrate that it can do even better ahead of the eagerly-anticipated 2018 national elections — in a contest in which numbers mean everything.
Zanu PF youth league deputy secretary, Kudzanai Chipanga, told the Daily News yesterday that all was set for the march in support of Mugabe, which he had no doubt would be a “resounding success”.
“It’s all systems go now because we have done what was supposed to be the most difficult part, that is mobilisation. Our provincial assembly points have been secured, with the National Sports Stadium reserved for all Matabeleland provinces as well as Midlands.
“Mashonaland West will assemble at Kensington Shopping Centre, and East 24 will host Manicaland and Mashonaland East. The host province (Harare) will assemble at Raylton Sports Club, with Rufaro Stadium hosting Masvingo. Mashonaland Central will be near the South African Embassy.
“The provinces will march from these points simultaneously to Robert Mugabe Square (which opposition parties refer to as Freedom Square), beginning at 9am and they will then be addressed by the president,” Chipanga said.
However, and in line with the debilitating divisions that are ravaging the former liberation movement, he made it clear that ousted Zanu PF national youth league secretary, Pupurai Togarepi — one of the alleged key Mnangagwa allies — was not, and would not be involved in organising the march.
On his part, Togarepi pooh-poohed claims that he and other supposed Mnangagwa loyalists were working around the clock to block the march, adding ominously that there were youths who were posting on social media that they would not be part of the march if Togarepi was barred from participating in the demonstration.
“I am fully behind the million-man march. Remember, I am actually the author of the first million-man march in 2007. Then, I invited Jabulani Sibanda, not the other way round.
“I am happy therefore if my youths have that zeal to use their energy to mobilise for the president. These activities create awareness and galvanise youths. I am therefore calling upon all Zanu PF youths and those affiliated to the party to participate.
“There is no misunderstanding or misgivings about what the march seeks to achieve, hence I am actually hiring buses using my personal resources,” Togarepi said.
But Chipanga countered saying he was not aware “which youths” his former boss wanted “to ferry with his buses”.
“It is sad Togarepi has some youths he refers to as his. He has no youths as they all belong to the party and he has no constitutional mandate to interact with the party structures until his case is finalised.
“We are therefore not working with him in preparing for this march and if he is going to be part of it, he is only doing it in his capacity as an ordinary member of Zanu PF. In fact, we as the youth league have not seen him since his suspension,” Chipanga charged.
Togarepi acknowledged that with Zanu PF divided along seemingly intractable factional lines, there were bound to be divisions as well in the ranks of the youth league.
“It must also be realised that these are people who have not developed that much politically and they tend to irritate each other and sometimes they are misdirected by other people with their own agendas.
“I know very well that people are saying they do not know which of the four or five factions in the party I belong to, but I am happy because I am in Zanu PF as a compact organisation led by one person (Mugabe) and directed by its constitution.
“I will remain focused behind the person who appointed me (Mugabe). I will not follow anybody else or be part of a faction,” he said further.
Togarepi was recently ousted from the youth league in a vote of no confidence related to his suspected links to Team Lacoste, which is allegedly fighting to get Mnangagwa to succeed Mugabe before the 2018 polls.