There was no need to carry out the said million-man march in support of President Robert Mugabe. The president is hardly seen as legitimate in the sight of the majority of Zimbabweans considering his handling of the 2008 elections and presidential run-off whose results he swayed in his favour, besides other polls.
Zanda Shumba Nyazura,Our Reader
The 2008 election showed him the majority of Zimbabweans no longer had confidence in him. Mugabe knows this and so do the majority of Zimbabweans. It is a fact but arrogance has replaced conscience.
However, Mugabe rejected the will of the people and imposed himself on them and declared himself the winner after the bloody run-off from which his arch-rival MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai withdrew clearly realising the odds of winning such an election were nil as Zanu PF escalated electoral violence.
So, the march in support of Mugabe is ridiculous and funny, to say the least. It can also be seen as a gesture to the populace to remind them that Zanu PF is still in control of the system. Zimbabweans know how ruthless these youths can be after.
We had, on the occasion the march, the likes of Kudzai Chipanga, deputy secretary of Zanu PF’s youth wing, telling Mugabe to keep ruling until he dies and the excitable First Lady Grace Mugabe even saying her husband will rule even from his grave at the National Heroes Acre.
During all this praise-singing, Mugabe showed a lot of discomfort and some contempt for the statements. He may want to rule as long as he lives and may want his legacy to live forever, but he does not say it outright in public. He works behind the election curtain to force himself on the people and still gain some legitimacy, however thin.
Many are not sure how the youths were lured to come for the march, but what we know is that Zanu PF frog-marches people to support Mugabe. Zanu PF has a record of coercing people to attend its functions and conferences, so it is less certain whether it was out of the individual youths’ own volition or were indeed forced.
Besides, Zanu PF also controls food aid distribution and has been using food as a tool to control and demand the allegiance of rural folk. So it was easy for Zanu PF to mastermind an event of such a grand stature.
Many people who attended the march were ferried from the countryside and a considerable amount of money was used to bring them into the capital. It was also easy to co-ordinate the efforts of bringing together the youths and Women’s League members since Patrick Zhuwao, who is Mugabe’s nephew, is also the Minister of Youths and the First Lady is the party’s Women’s League boss — how convenient!
The million-man march was done at a time when the economy has contracted significantly due to destructive, shortsighted economic policies and rampant corruption. Many of the youths who attended the march are not employed and have poor education — this shows how ignorant they are. This anomaly could also be deciphered from Chipanga’s background speech, a large part of which concentrated on real concerns he and his organising team gathered when they were persuading the youths to come and worship the president.
Youths countrywide are going through difficult times and they made it clear to the organisers and the message was conveyed to Mugabe albeit, as can be expected, not as voetstoots, but it was clear as crystal all the same. The youths complained about the lavish lifestyle of ministers, while they have to scrounge around for survival.
Certainly, they were pointing to a very corrupt system, but I was surprised to hear Chipanga dissociating the president from the corrupt ministers, pampering him saying “we know you hate corruption”. For the record, Mugabe’s government has never charged or fired anyone of corruption since 1980 except on the Willowvale scandal. Mugabe only talks about hating corruption, but he does not act against it. Zimbabwe ranks lowly on the global corruption indices.
It is Mugabe himself who appoints these ministers and keeps recycling them. So Chipanga is highly ill-advised to absolve him on ruining the economy and unwillingness to curb corruption. Mugabe turns a blind eye on corruption to preserve his rule and so corruption will not end as long as he is still in power. If he gets corruptly elected, his ministers will not be ashamed to act corruptly, while going about their duties.
It is absurd to see anyone sane supporting and praising such a failed leader. The national broadcaster, ZBC-TV, covered the event live. When the MDC-T held a protest against the missing US$15 billion diamond revenue, among other issues, the national broadcaster did not cover the event comprehensibly. ZBC is national only in name and when it comes to news coverage, only the interests of Zanu PF are given space.
It is the only effective means of reaching the remote parts of the country and Mugabe’s government have thwarted attempts by political rivals to use the public media. It has also prevented dissenting voices from reaching a considerable part of the electorate. So can anyone support such a leader?
It is to their own disservice that Zanu PF youths may continue to back and praise Mugabe. The concerns they raised are real and will not go away as long as Mugabe is president. Mugabe’s only reply to the youths’ demands was “we will check the grievances and give you a reply”.
Mugabe had ample time to sort things out in Zimbabwe and to prove he is a serious leader, but he failed because his priority has never been nation-building.
Mugabe needs to be reminded that true heroes are those that bring prosperity to their fellow countrymen, not those that ruin them as he has done using toxic policies whose main objective is to preserve his own rule at the expense of the nation and its people.
Recently, we witnessed a similar parade in honour of Kim Jong-un by his people. Kim Jong-un is the only fat person in North Korea and it seems the whole country is sacrificing their happiness for his desires and well-being. This has a parallel in Zimbabwe where youths are forced to preserve Mugabe’s rule and personal prosperity, while they wallow in abject poverty.
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