Indaba lights up sleepy Masvingo •President opens conference today •7 000 delegates expected Cde Ignatius Chombo
Cde Chombo

Cde Chombo

George Maponga Masvingo Bureau—
All is set for the official opening of the Zanu-PF 16th Annual National People’s Conference today by the revolutionary party’s First Secretary and President, Cde Mugabe at Masvingo Showgrounds. The party’s leadership is confident the indaba will find solutions to obtaining economic challenges. The conference began with a Politburo meeting in Harare on Tuesday, which was followed by a Central Committee meeting on Wednesday. Yesterday was reserved for the travelling of delegates to Masvingo.

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Nearly 7 000 delegates were accredited for the indaba that is being held under the theme, “Moving with Zim-Asset in Peace and Unity”. Thousands of delegates from all 10 provinces in Zimbabwe and outside began arriving here yesterday afternoon breathing life into the normally sleepy town.

Zanu-PF secretary for Administration Dr Ignatius Chombo yesterday said all was set for the official opening of the conference by President Mugabe today. Dr Chombo said the majority of the delegates were already in the city and expressed high hopes that the conference would be a resounding success and one of the best ruling party indabas.

“The conference is starting in earnest tomorrow (Friday) when President Mugabe will officially open it, and I am happy to announce that all the provinces have started to arrive and we are very pleased with the number of buses that have already checked in with delegates from various provinces. Other buses are also on their way,” he said.

“We are also happy with the physical side of preparations for the conference, the water situation, the toilet situation and the feeding points are all in good shape,” he added. Dr Chombo said thousands of delegates had arrived by end of day yesterday after the arrival of 75 buses that were carrying members from various parts of the country.

‘’We still have about 30 buses that are still to come, but we expect them to check in today (yesterday) so that all the people are here for the start of the conference that will be marked by the official opening,’’ said Dr Chombo.

The Zanu-PF secretary for Administration, said there was enough accommodation for all the delegates, adding that all hotels, lodges and some guest houses in and around Masvingo city had been fully booked for the indaba. He said the ruling party had also managed to secure 40 houses around Masvingo City to accommodate delegates who might encounter challenges.

The conference ends tomorrow. The ruling party has already said this year’s conference will not be elective, with Dr Chombo saying the indaba would mainly focus on ways to revive the economy.

“Obviously, the major topic of discussion will be the economy. Some ministers will be presenting their success stories vis-a-vis our targets under Zim-Asset. From what I see, I think we will have a very rich conference,” he said.

Dr Chombo said accreditation of delegates would continue, targeting foreign delegates especially, but added that there would be strict monitoring and verification to make sure no delegates are smuggled into the indaba.

‘’Accreditation was taking place today (yesterday) and will continue tomorrow (today) and we will be accrediting our colleagues from the region who indicated their willingness to come to our conference,’’ he added.

Besides delegates from the country’s 10 administrative provinces, the Zanu-PF indaba will also be graced by delegates from the party’s Johannesburg and UK chapters, together with other friendly organisations that are expected to give solidarity messages.

Masvingo Zanu-PF acting Masvingo provincial chairman Cde Amasa Nhenjana, yesterday said all delegates arriving in Masvingo for the indaba would pass through the venue at the Showgrounds to feed before proceeding to various places where they would be accommodated.

‘’We have prepared enough food for all the delegates to eat today (yesterday) before they go wherever they will be accommodated.” “Tomorrow (today), the delegates will have breakfast at the places where they are accommodated and they will also get food hampers to make sure they have something to eat during the conference between lunch and supper,” he said.

Cde Nhenjana said the delegates would be served with both lunch and supper at the conference venue. The ruling party in Masvingo managed to mobilise 52 beasts to feed delegates over the duration of the conference, while other donors chipped in with maize-meal and other foodstuffs.

Zanu-PF also managed to secure over 12 000 blankets, and over 7 000 beds for the delegates most of whom are accommodated at schools, colleges, universities and boarding houses in and around Masvingo city. Masvingo residents and businesses were also ready to cash in on the indaba with most of them expecting brisk business from thousands of delegates.

Some residents in suburbs near the conference venue such as Rhodene and Zimre Extension were cashing in on the indaba by renting out their homes to some of the delegates with an average room going for US$60 per day.

The conference will end tomorrow (Saturday) when President Mugabe will officially close it. Masvingo last hosted the Zanu-PF conference in 2003 at Masvingo Teachers’ College and the province got the chance to host the indaba this year after last year’s event was held in Victoria Falls, Matebeleland North.

Meanwhile, President Mugabe touched down at Masvingo Airport yesterday afternoon aboard an Air Zimbabwe flight ahead of the official opening of the indaba today. The President, who was accompanied by First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe and their two sons Robert (Jnr) and Chatunga Bellarmine was welcomed by Vice Presidents and Second Secretaries Cdes Emmerson Mnangagwa and Phelekezela Mphoko.

Also at the airport to welcome the President was Masvingo provincial Affairs Minister Senator Shuvai Mahofa and service chiefs from the province.

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