HARARE – Industries in the country might have grounded to a halt, thousands might be out of work but for hundreds of Zanu PF supporters who attended the burial of major general Eliah Bandama on Friday everything seemed perfectly normal.
“Zim Asset, Zimbabwe at work”, read one of the banners, waved by a group of supporters keen to leave an impression.
Service chiefs, government ministers and the VVIPs licked ice creams, as they followed proceedings at the burial of Bandama; a man who President Robert Mugabe said was promoted to the rank of major general as he battled cancer.
Ministers arrived at the National Heroes Acre in Mercedes Benzes, BMWs and other top-of-the-range vehicles, while MPs arrived in monstrous Ford Rangers, which dwarfed the crammed graveyard and poor Zimbabweans, bussed to watch the burial of yet another “gallant soldier”, also had the opportunity to witness the world of glitz and glamour from their leaders.
Sirens pierced the air as service chiefs who included army commander general Constantine Chiwenga arrived.
The povo had arrived jam-packed in run down buses and trucks, they sang along to songs that exalt their rulers, who importantly sat in the shade, in ties, bow ties, and expensive leather shoes. The majority of them wore splendorous suits.
Across the podium in the terraces the restless crowds sat, staring blankly at their leaders, some had shoes, some did not, some wore sandals and the majority were donning Zanu PF party regalia preserved from last year’s July 31 elections.
On a working day, the numbers of people at the Zanu PF burial shrine defied logic.
Almost 90 percent of Zimbabweans are unemployed and not surprisingly, vendors ruled the roost.
Clad in party regalia — emblazoned with Mugabe’s youthful face — Zanu PF loyalists were in a square mood, as music boomed from a powerful PA system.
On this sunny Thursday, they sang and danced, one woman wriggled her behind suggestively as excitement reached fever pitch.
Mugabe, immaculately dressed as ever, arrived in his official limo heavily guarded by security details. He made calculated steps unaided, as he followed just behind struggling pallbearers, with service chiefs in tow.
It was a display of might as soldiers with precision went about their drills, hoisting bayoneted guns into the air, much to the delight of the crowd.
Mugabe was grim and nostalgic as he gave his speech, heaping praises on those who made the ultimate sacrifice to fight for this country against the shackles of colonialism and rallying his people to soldier on notwithstanding the many difficulties facing the country.
But even as he eulogised, the 90-year-old strongman urged his people forward, nudging those wallowing in penury to up the fight — and his words earned him a standing ovation from the soldiers and vapositori church members who had made it to the Heroes’ Acre.