Samuel Kadungure in Mutare
MANICALAND yesterday witnessed one of the biggest crowds ever in Mutare when Zanu-PF supporters, in swelling numbers, thronged Sakubva Stadium for President Mugabe’s interactive rally with the youths.
People came by buses, lorries and kombis, while dignitaries were chauffeur-driven in latest all-terrain SUVs and double cabs.
The more than 40 000 people were all united by the President’s interface rally with the youths.
The huge turn-out relived the memories of April 18, 1980 when Zimbabwe celebrated its Independence.
The venue was filled to the rafters, with an estimated 40 000 supporters in attendance, which once again demonstrated the ruling party’s mobilisation capacity.
Thousands of Zanu-PF supporters could not make it into the stadium due to limited space and followed proceedings on giant screens that were mounted in the overflow arenas on the eastern and western side of the stadium.
Some hung precariously on floodlights, billboards and trees in the stadium to catch a glimpse of the iconic leader delivering his speech.
People started trickling into the stadium as early as 5am. By 11am the stadium was already full to capacity.
Entrance into the stadium was closed by 12pm.
There was a cocktail of entertainment from various musical and traditional dance groups.
Sulumani Chimbetu, Seh Calaz, Sniper Storm and Soul Jah Love, among other artistes, mesmerised the ruling party supporters, some of whom had never watched them strumming the strings live on stage.
The crowd jumped off their seats, dancing, whistling and ululating.
President Mugabe and the First Lady, Dr Grace Mugabe, arrived at the stadium at 1.30pm to thunderous applause from the supporters.
The song, “Jongwe Rinorira”, did the magic, redefining the mood and psyching up the supporters.
In a fusion of humility and natural charisma, President Mugabe and the First Lady went round the stadium in the company of Zanu-PF secretary for Youth Affairs, Cde Kudzi Chipanga, greeting the jubilant supporters.
The gesture raised the tempo as it was reciprocated with rapturous cheers characterised by ululations, whistling and chants of “Gushungu, Gushungo . . .”
Mozambique’s Manica Governor, Cde Alberto Ricardo Mondlane and his delegation comprising mostly of youths, were in attendance in a show of solidarity.
They stressed the bond between the two countries which dates back to the days of the protracted liberation struggle through wartime songs — “Kure Kure Kwatinobva”, “Tondosangana KuZimbabwe”, which was well received by the crowd.
Several foreign and local journalists covered the rally.
Cde Chipanga said the Youth League would rally behind the candidature of President Mugabe in the 2018 elections and encouraged youths across the country to register to vote.
Cde Chipanga also called for unity in the party.
“It’s either we unite or we perish as fools. War veterans, youths, the Women’s League and the main wing, we have no choice, but to unite,” said Cde Chipanga.
“In 2018, the youths will stand by one candidate — that is President Mugabe. The youths have set the ball rolling, rejuvenating the party and we should now make sure they register to vote. We are going to have the new voting system (biometric voter registration) and every clever Zanu-PF member should be on the voter’s roll and vote for President Mugabe,” said Cde Chipanga.
He applauded Government for implementing programmes that seek to revive the economy.
He, however, complained about the side-lining of youths in the Command Agriculture programme.
Cde Chipanga said Government should allocate the remaining white-owned farms to youths.
“There are several farms in Manicaland that are still owned by white farmers and Government should repossess them and parcel them to youths,” said Cde Chipanga.
“There are also lots of plantations in Manicaland, and Government should come up with sector programmes meant for the youths,” said Cde Chipanga.
Cde Chipanga said Manicaland would host the 21st February Movement celebrations next year.
He called for unity in the party.
Manicaland provincial youth chairperson Cde Mubuso Chinguno, reaffirmed the province’s support for President Mugabe, adding that youths would work hard to ensure the party won all the 26 constituencies in Manicaland.
He also decried the plunder of Chiadzwa diamonds, adding that Manicaland had nothing to show for its wealth.
The rally was attended by several Government ministers and Vice Presidents Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.