THE Robert Gabriel Mugabe Square lived up to its billing yesterday when hundreds of thousands of Zanu-PF supporters gathered there in a show of force to celebrate President Mugabe’s legacy and affirm their support for his candidature for the 2018 harmonised elections.
The gathering, which coincided with Africa Day, was also in honour of President Mugabe’s tenure as African Union chairman that saw the continental body launch a 50-year development plan, Agenda 2063 which, just like the country’s own economic blueprint Zim-Asset, advocates judicious exploitation of the continent’s God-given resources through value-addition and beneficiation.
Under President Mugabe’s tenure, the African Union, moved its trajectory firmly on the path of economic independence and speaker after speaker yesterday expressed pride at the way President Mugabe had steered the continental ship.
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The square was a hive of activity as early as 7am as people streamed in from several designated Million-Man March venues with buses arriving from various provinces to celebrate the legacy of a man who has become synonymous with plaudits wherever he goes in the developing world.
President Mugabe is the only incumbent leader in Africa today cut from the same cloth that gave Africa the iconic leaders who formed the Organisation of African Unity in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on May 25, 1963. Scores of buses, haulage trucks and other vehicles carrying delegates from Midlands and Matabeleland provinces arrived at the National Sports Stadium as early as 7am and were addressed by their respective youth chairpersons.
Upon arrival, the youths burst into songs and toyi-toyed around the stadium chanting slogans and praising President Mugabe.
The youths started marching to Robert Mugabe Square at around 10:30am after being given food and event regalia.
Harare province was gathered at Raylton Sports Club and buses started arriving at the assembly point at around 8am.
Hundreds of thousands of people were gathered at the venue by 10am.
Zanu-PF members broke into singing and dancing while others were doing press ups celebrating the visionary leadership of President Mugabe.
The march started around 10:15am as the crowd marched along Jason Moyo Avenue to the main venue at the Robert Mugabe Square.
Representatives of Masvingo province and part of Mashonaland East province met at Rufaro Stadium at around 8am in their numbers with the figures swelling as time progressed.
The march from Rufaro Stadium commenced at about 10:30am as the people headed towards the venue.
Manicaland and the bulk of party members from Mashonaland East had filled the East 24 perimeter to capacity by 9:30am and they had parking challenges as most vehicles were almost blocking Samora Machel Avenue.
Placards with inscriptions that showered accolades on President Mugabe were on display.
The Zanu-PF Youth League expressed satisfaction with the huge turnout.
The Youth League secretary for finance Cde Tongai Kasukuwere said the crowd exceeded their expectations.
“With the little resources, we managed to pull out a lot of people. We used about $100 000 for the success of this event and this includes, tents hire, chairs, toilets etc. Movement of the people from the provinces was self funding. Some came in lorries and even tractors. Everyone can see that President Mugabe is the darling of the nation. We now need to work on the economy and not focus on trivial issues.
“The idea of the One Man Million March was to celebrate the legacy of President Mugabe. We thought, him being an African icon and former chairperson of the African Union and Sadc, Africa Day was the best day to celebrate his legacy from where he has taken us before independence, through independence, land reform, indigenisation and just the emancipation of the African people.
“This is what we are celebrating,” he said.
Dangamvura-Chikanga legislator Cde Esau Mupfumi who was part of the organising team in Manicaland said he was overwhelmed by the massive turnout.
“It is evident that Zimbabwe has heeded our call. All provinces are here. It is now One Million Man plus march. People have shown their willingness to rally behind their leader President Mugabe. He is the only centre of power.”
“This event is special not only to Zimbabwe but to Africa as a whole. President Mugabe has ruled. He has shown light in Africa. People have come in numbers. We can only urge them to continue rallying behind our visionary leader,” he said.
A London based supporter of President Mugabe who travelled for the event, Ms Cheryl Svosve said she was elated to finally meet her icon.
“I travelled all the way from London because this is a really iconic moment in history. It is not every day that you get to meet the President and hear what he has to say. I really wanted to take this opportunity to come here and experience the One Man Million March with my people,” she said.
Sport and Recreation Minister and Mberengwa East legislator Cde Makhosini Hlongwane said the event was historical.
“This is an epochal event in terms of the history of the party and the history of the youths in the country. The youths have finally been able to turn the important exuberant and ebullient energy they have into support not just for our iconic leader, President Mugabe but the iconic figure for the entire continent. So this is not a small thing”
“It is an important celebration that speaks to the importance of this great founding father of Zimbabwe, this great founding father of Africa and celebrating the works that he has done over many years of his life,” he said.
Queen of Grace Zim-Asset Trust secretary general Cde Ephraim Chizola said the vendors and other small entrepreneurs he represented were happy and content with the leadership of President Mugabe.
Cde Chizola said vendors had come in huge numbers from all the 10 provinces to show their support for the President.
“As vendors and small entrepreneurs, we pledge our support to President Mugabe and we will never leave him or the ruling party. He has empowered us economically and today we are all businesspeople, running our own entities,” he said.