UPDATES: Simiso Mlevu; PHOTOGRAPHY: Wilson Kakurira; EDITOR: Costa Mano; PICTURE EDITOR: Clearance Munondo
1647: This brings to an end our live updates for today.
1645: Matabeleland South provincial chairperson, Cde Choeni gives vote of thanks and thanks President Mugabe for making it to the province.
“Matabeleland South is a sparsely populated province but we are proud of the work we put up to assemble such a big crowd,” Cde Choeni says.
1635: President Mugabe has implored the Central Committee to continue guiding youths adding that since the First Lady is not around, he is going to brag to her about the goodness of the event.
He concludes his speech by encouraging unity among party members.
1631: He says he has watched some of the Government ministers going to consult prophets in Nigeria and asks if there is a special bible used by those prophets. He says he watches and just says “hameno kwazvichasvitsana ikoko.”
1626: President Mugabe says he has heard people describing Donald Trump as insane, but to him, it doesn’t matter because he defeated Hillary Clinton who hates Zimbabwe with a passion
1610: “The West was not pleased with us being able to forge ahead in the face of sanctions. I wondered why he (Tony Blair) thought he is entitled to our country as if God gave him some dominion over Zimbabwe. He gave himself some supervisory role over us. Ah, who is he,” President Mugabe asks and a member of the audience chants, he is a thief.
1606: President Mugabe has thanked Zimbabweans for remaining resolute and defending the country against Western onslaught.
1605: ”These are the kind of leaders we need. The leaders who come up with their own programmes. We did not think up this for you. It is you who came to me and said we want to thank you for the way you executed your job as African Union and SADC chairperson”
1602: Addressing Cde Chipanga, President Mugabe says he has demonstrated that organs can be united.
“We thank you. We thank you very much. You have done what those who led the youth league before you failed to do”
1601: President Mugabe says the success of the farming season is attributed to command agriculture and Presidential Inputs scheme adding that the party achieves more when people are united.
1600: His Excellency says following the successful land reform program, MDC-T leader tried to instill fear among Zimbabweans by saying people will starve to death. Some laughed saying we have lost our bread basket status as a country.
“But do you see how much food we have this year?” He asks
1548: He has encouraged people to break the tradition saying now the people have land. The conditions are not any better there, any longer.
“Let us stay here and work on our land,” President Mugabe says.
1546: President Mugabe says today he met the vice presidents, Cde Mohadi, Damasane, Choeni and other provincial party leaders and implored them to keep the people together. He speaks of a long standing tradition which he noticed in 1945 when he was teaching at Empandeni Mission. The tradition was of going to South Africa.
1543: President Mugabe says the liberation struggle was a struggle of leaders who did not accept disunity.
“Here we are, after all what happened, we are back together, we are united. We hope this will not come to an end.
1540: “I told Dumiso that this is the route others have decided to take. I don’t know why Dumiso decided to do what he is doing, to leave some of us. We started this journey with him. What followed there was a split of Zapu leading to the formation of Zanu. This is one incident that we regret.”
1531: “Chikerema was assertive in nature. He would assert himself in any grouping he found himself in. He would brag that he controlled Nkomo and as a result, he influenced him to form a government in exile. This idea was opposed by many including the youths led by Dumiso Dabengwa. The likes of Joseph Musika too were opposed to this idea.”
1528: He narrates the events just after the formation of Zapu adding that among the pioneers, there was his cousin, James Chikerema who was the spokesman of Zapu.
1526: President has spoken glowingly of Zimbabwe’s relations with South Africa adding that nomatter what others say or think of Jacob Zuma Zimbabwe continues to relate to him normally. President Mugabe says they started Zapu together with the late Vice President Nkomo, Jason Ziyaphapha Moyo.
“We worked so well together and used to get so much support from local business people.”
1520: Passionately, he says he hopes the late VP, Joshua Nkomo is resting in peace together with other departed Comrades. He has described the late Ndebele King, Mzilikazi as one of the pioneers of the struggle adding that even his remains are interred in the great area of Ematojeni.
1516: “When I heard that our next meeting will be in Mat South, I thought of many things that connect me to this province. We held meetings with Umdala Wethu, from Kezi to Plumtree, Gwanda, Filabusi and Beitbridge.”
1515: “Our tears are still fresh. We miss him. We miss him today, we will miss him and we shall miss him forever. I hope you keep him in your prayers so that he continues to rest in peace.”
President Mugabe has described Matabeleland South as a great province. He speaks of his strong connection with Matabeleland South.
“Is this not the province of Joshua Nkomo? The values he left us with are alive. We still carry on with them in pride.”
1512: His Excellency says he is still mourning the death of Cde Naison Khutshwekhaya Ndlovu whom he calls his father in law.
1507: President Mugabe says First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe has travelled to South Africa to have her foot examined after she was injured at the airport in a freak accident recently.
1502: Cde Chipanga has invited President Mugabe to the podium. President Mugabe rises to deliver his speech to hit song “Mdara Achauya”
1459: “It doesn’t strengthen our resolve to fill up the stadiums yet thousands among us are not registered to vote. There is a new system of registration that we have embraced as a country. Therefore, everyone is expected to register as a voter.”
1458: Cde Chipanga has implored youths to go and register to vote.
“Our challenge as youths is that we have a substantial number of youths who are not registered voters. Your victory is not in question President Mugabe. We are solidly behind your candidature and we are not going to support anyone besides you.”
1448: Youth League secretary Cde Kudzayi Chipanga has just finished introducing the Politburo members in attendance.
1447: Matabeleland South youth league chair Cde Dingumuzi Phuthi thanks President Mugabe for listening to their grievances and making efforts to address them.
“As Matabeleland South, we are happy to host you for the second time this year after successfully hosting your birthday celebrations in Matobo earlier this year. We gather you were elated with the celebrations.”
1443: Chief Masuku welcomes President Mugabe and all the party membership to Gwanda. He implores them to feel at home.
1427: The National Anthem is now being sung.
1426: Barcelona FC legends Patrick Kluivert and Edgar Davids are also gracing the Matabeleland South Presidential Youth Interface rally. They arrived in the company of Minister of Sports and Recreation Cde Makhosini Hlongwane who is donning a Barcelona FC t-shirt.
1414: President Mugabe is arriving at Pelandaba Stadium and the crowd thunders in song. As the Presidential motorcade enters the venue, everyone at the stadium stands up to show respect to the party leader. He is now moving around the stadium in a ZRP Defender vehicle greeting an ecstatic crowd.
1411: Cdes Simon Khaya Moyo, Josaya Hungwe, Christopher Mushowe and Sydney Sekeramayi are here too.
1405: The two VPs Mnangagwa and Mphoko have just arrived at Pelandaba Stadium here in Jahunda Suburb, Gwanda.
1339: The VVIP tent is filling up. Zanu PF Secretary for Administration, Dr Ignatius Chombo, National Political Commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere and Secretary for Security in the Politburo Cde Kembo Mohadi have taken their seats. Secretary for Finance in the Politburo, Cde Obert Mpofu is here too.
1332: From the briefing, President headed to the Gwanda Post office where he commissioned a Community Information Centre which is expected to help locals stay informed.
1312: The First Secretary of the ruling party has just landed at Gwanda Polytechnic College where he is expected to have a briefing with Matabeleland South party leadership.
1302: The sound of helicopters hovering above Jahunda Suburb and subsequently Pelandaba Stadium elates the crowd gathered here waiting for the arrival of President Mugabe.
1242: The smooth Zanu PF mobilising machine is at it again here in Matabeleland South, filling to the rafters, the province’s home of football, Pelandaba Stadium.
1206: Some senior Government officials have arrived at the venue and already taken their seats. Those who have arrived include Cdes Mabel Chinomona,Jonathan Moyo, Abigail Damasane, Patrick Zhuwao, Dr Walter Mzembi, Eunice Sandi-Moyo and Joshua Malinga.
1149: In the revolutionary spirit that has engulfed the province, liberation war songs by Light Machine Gun choir get people dancing along.
1143: As the crowd waits impatiently, the Zimbabwe Republic Police Band entertains them with Brenda Fassie’s popular beats. Home to more than five ethnic groups, Matabeleland South is a culturally rich province.
1142: The sixth leg of the Presidential Youth Interface rallies is taking place at Pelandaba Stadium in Gwanda, Matabeleland South today. This particular interface meeting comes after the successful hosting by Mashonaland East, Manicaland, Masvingo, Matabeleland North and Mashonaland West which have drawn crowds of between 40000 and 60000.