HARARE – Thousands of Zanu PF followers who participated in Wednesday’s much-hyped one million-man march in Harare, in support of President Robert Mugabe (pictured), were left stranded in the biting winter cold after failing to get transport to take them back to their homes.
A Daily News crew which went around the capital city on Wednesday night, after being alerted to the farcical developments by angry supporters, saw hordes of hungry and desperate party followers milling around dejectedly after they were left to their own devices after the march by the organisers of the gathering.
At the same time, opposition parties and other critics of the former liberation movement described the march as a “monumental flop” after the ruling party failed to mobilise anything close to the numbers it had intended to bring together — despite its alleged abuse of State resources.
A group of disgruntled party supporters who visited the Daily News’ central Harare offices early on Wednesday evening also had no kind words for the conveners of the march after being dumped in the capital.
“We can’t reach anyone to help us and don’t know what to do now. We are supposed to go back to Mashonaland Central but we neither have transport nor the money.
“Please publish this story so that this abuse can be highlighted, and so that others may not suffer the same fate in future. Now that they (the organisers) have achieved their selfish goals, we are being discarded like condoms,” one of the disaffected officials said.
In the meantime, former Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland West, Temba Mliswa — who has intimate knowledge of the ruling party — said the relatively low turnout at Wednesday’s march was “a clear sign that Mugabe’s days are numbered”.
“If one is to count the number of people in party structures in Mashonaland West alone, the figure is well over 300 000.
“The fact that the people who attended this rally were just about equal to the number that (MDC leader Morgan) Tsvangirai had during his crossover rally in 2013 shows beyond any doubt that those who are endorsing Mugabe’s candidature for the 2018 elections are setting him up for failure.
“This all shows that he (Mugabe) is finished and that he will not win against an organised opposition, especially if they can form a coalition,” the garrulous Mliswa said.
MDC spokesperson Obert Gutu described the march as having been “utterly purposeless”, as it had failed “to yield any positives for long suffering Zimbabweans”.
“The MDC has always stated that Mugabe can afford to rig the elections but he can never successfully rig the economy. Without the coercive apparatus of the State, the number of attendants at the rally could also have been even smaller.
“All vendors operating from Mbare Musika in Harare were forced and commandeered to participate in the spurious and fascist march. When the MDC staged the ‘mother of all demonstrations’ in Harare on April 14, no less than 20 000 people voluntarily took part in the historic march.
“No single school or public institution was commandeered to provide transport to ferry our supporters to our march. Put simply, the MDC never coerced or extorted money and any other material resources from anyone,” Gutu said.
He added that it was now clear that Zanu PF was now “living on borrowed time”.
“The old man (Mugabe) has nothing new that he can offer the people of Zimbabwe. He has superintended the total collapse of a country that used to be an economic giant in Africa,” he said.
Angered by powerful First Lady Grace Mugabe’s statement that her husband would rule Zimbabwe from the grave, Gutu said there were millions of other Zimbabweans who could lead the country “far better than Mugabe in every respect”.
“The Zanu PF regime is an accident waiting to happen. This dictatorship will soon collapse like a deck of cards. Grace Mugabe has never held ordinary Zimbabweans in high esteem.
“She thinks the majority of the people are fools. That’s why she is always making these reckless, provocative and ill-thought utterances.
“She must be reminded that history is replete with examples of dictatorships that have collapsed at times when they thought they were at their strongest and most invincible,” Gutu said.
The spokesperson of the Welshman Ncube-led MDC said the march was “a harbinger for disaster to come for Zanu PF in 2018”.
“The march was a big flop and a pointer to an embarrassing defeat in 2018. The march was a foolish strategy that left Zanu PF more fragmented and the country much poorer.
“Zanu PF and Mugabe are on their way out and only a fool will invest his or her life in a 92-year-old person. Zanu PF is officially dead and it is now clear that they don’t have a succession plan,” the party’s spokesperson Kurauone Chihwayi said.
He added that Zimbabwe had “endured enough pain under Mugabe’s rule”, but predicted a heavy defeat for the ruling party come 2018.
People’s Democratic Party (PDP) spokesperson Jacob Mafume also said instead of emboldening Mugabe, the march actually showed that his support base had dwindled due to “economic mismanagement and the suffering among the masses”.
“He has failed to rule the country alive and he cannot do something good when he is dead” Mafume said, as he panned Grace’s controversial utterances at Wednesday’s march that her husband would continue ruling Zimbabwe from his grave.