HARARE – Former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) party, whose leading lights have intimate knowledge of President Robert Mugabe’s governing Zanu PF, says today’s million-man march by the former liberation movement is a “kick-start” of its rigging strategy for the 2018 national elections.
Speaking ahead of the controversial Zanu PF demonstration in Harare today, ZPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo said yesterday that the march was also intended to hoodwink the world to believe that Mugabe still had the support of the majority of Zimbabweans, notwithstanding the country’s dire state.
Mujuru, Gumbo and dozens of ZPF’s other bigwigs are former Zanu PF stalwarts who were hounded out of the ruling party in 2014 on untested allegations of plotting to oust and assassinate Mugabe.
Gumbo warned Zimbabweans that Zanu PF, through today’s march, was kick-starting both its campaign and rigging machinations for the country’s eagerly-anticipated next national polls that are a mere two years away.
“The march is being used as a tool to kick-start the campaign for the 2018 national elections that are slipping out of the ruling party’s grip.
“It is intended to shore up support for a decaying party and government that has misruled the country for the past 36 years and has brought untold suffering to the people of Zimbabwe,” the former Zanu PF spokesperson said.
The march, a brainchild of Zanu PF youths aligned to the party’s Generation 40 camp (G40), has since been embraced grudgingly by the faction loyal to embattled Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa — apparently after Mugabe arm-twisted dissenting war veterans to take part in it.
Gumbo said Zimbabwe was in an “abyss of despair, yet the corrupt and inept” Zanu PF wanted to portray a rosy picture to long-suffering citizens and the outside world.
“The march is also about creating an impression to the outside world that Zanu PF and its government are not short of ideas on how to resuscitate an economy that is already on life support, and that they should be trusted and supported.
“Above all, the march intends to provide a platform for the nonagenarian leader to hoodwink his people into believing that finally there is light at the end of the tunnel for a country that is already in the abyss of despair.
“By the wildest stretch of imagination, the march is not voluntary but coerced. It’s all about them and their parochial and egoistic interests. The poor and cash-strapped businesses are being forced to donate vehicles and funds for fuel and food,” Gumbo said, urging people to boycott the “worthless partisan political gimmick”.
He also reiterated claims that have been made by other opposition political parties that Zanu PF was abusing traditional leaders to force people to comply with the party’s demands.
“Traditional chiefs are forced to ensure their subjects’ participation as well as contribution to the march in cash or in kind. In return, the chiefs are promised more authority over their subjects and other State benefits.
“Both supporters and non-supporters of Zanu PF are forced to participate even if intimidation and violence have to be used.
“If they (the organisers) had grown up in the sixties and seventies and had been called upon to serve the (Ian) Smith regime to frustrate the struggle, they would have gladly organised a five million-man march in support of the iniquitous regime,” Gumbo also charged.