The all night musical show, the first to precede Mugabe’s birthday celebrations, is held at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Grounds in Bulawayo.
Security has been beefed up at the grounds.
Acclaimed Jamaican reggae artiste Sizzla, South Africa’s Soul Brothers, poet Mzwakhe Mbuli, Real Sounds of Africa and Beaux Gosses (both from DRC) and Namibia’s raunchy female dancers, Ndilimani make the international artistes line up.
Close to US$500 000 is budgeted for the gala and Saturday’s main celebrations –– double the amount spent on his 85th birthday fete held in Chinhoyi.
Last year Mugabe celebrated with an 85 kg birthday cake at the height of a devastating cholera outbreak.
It could not be ascertained by yesterday if Mugabe would attend the show. Tickets are sold for US$2.
The mood among Bulawayo residents yesterday points to low turnout. Several selling outposts said “a handful of people” are buying.
“There is hardly any interest for the show. Generally people feel the artistes do not appeal to them,” said a shop attendant at one selling point.
A snap survey among a cross section of youths yesterday also indicates that people would snub the show due to the composition of the artistes.
“It’s a dull lineup; most of the artistes are spent forces particularly the international ones.”
“If the organisers where clever, they should have invited people in the mould of South Africa’s Kwaito artiste Big Nuzz, artistes who appeal to youths,” said a student at a local a college.
Reggae music has few followers in Bulawayo as compared to the South African genres.”
Basing on estimates, organisers could have spent a fortune to lure international artistes.
With the current rates it costs between 30 000-40 000 rand to bring in South African performers.
Local entertainers are paid anything close to US$1000 depending on the profile of the show and Sizzla could have been paid US$50 000.
In a press statement organisers said local performers will include Sandra Ndebele, Progress Chipfumo, Sugar Sugar, the Charles and Olivia Charamba, Amavhitikazi, Hosiah Chipanga, Iyasa, Nicholas Zachariah, Dino Mudondo, Girls La Musica, Willom Tight, Mahendere Brothers among others.