BRIDGET MANANAVIRE in Goromonzi
“ASI hauzive mota? (why are you acting like you do not know cars?)”, a boy aged about seven nudges his friend who was seemingly mesmerised by a black Lexus sport utility vehicle that was driving past.
The car, an uncommon feature in these areas, looks like it has just been unwrapped; it slows down and turns into Goromonzi High School, the venue of Zanu PF’s 18th National People’s Conference.
The little boy then joins his friend as they walk in the rain along the dust road to their homesteads, perhaps wishing in his little heart that one day he will drive a similar car.
In the party’s 39 years in power, Zanu PF bigwigs have perfected the art of flaunting their opulence and flexing their political muscle.
The poverty being suffered by the masses has never stopped them from splashing on high-end vehicles and other fine luxuries of life such as hiring private jets.
Despite the economic challenges being faced in the country, the party has always managed to host lavish gatherings. And it was the wish of one Goromonzi woman to get a piece of the cake if, by any chance, the invitation gets extended to her.
“If the conference was open to us we would attend and also have a taste of the nice food that we have not eaten for so long. We would at least forget our hunger for those two days,” a vendor who operates close to the venue told the Zimbabwe Independent.
This year’s conference is being held under the theme: Mechanise, Modernise and Grow the Economy Towards Vision 2030, but for a people who still have vivid memories of unfulfilled 2018 election promises, this is another talk show, where the Zanu PF officials from all the country’s 10 provinces get to feast and remind each other they are in power.
Showing just how powerful the delegates are, the ruling party had by Wednesday afternoon set up two roadblocks on a 7km stretch from the Harare-Mutare road turn-off to Goromonzi High School.
The roadblocks, where security searches were conducted, were being manned by both the police and soldiers.At the venue, armed police officers were already on the ground to ensure security for the delegates, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his vice-presidents. And as fear gripped the people of Goromonzi, no one agreed to openly discuss with journalists how locals are surviving under the difficult economic conditions.
They could only fleetingly discuss the issue in hushed tones, emphasising that they neither wanted their pictures taken nor their names published.
One local told the Zimbabwe Independent most people feared being “dealt with” by party activists who do not tolerate negative criticism of the ruling party. “Please make sure I do not come out of any of your pictures, munondipinzisa busy (I will get in trouble).”
Trucks were moving up and down carrying gravel to cover the muddy tracks that had caused by heavy rains.While the country’s hospitals have no doctors, no medicines and no equipment, the clinics at the venue have been more than adequately stocked to cater for delegates.
Electricity poles that were set up by the government around 2013 and 2014 have remained there for years as the wait for electricity supply continues, half-a-decade on.
“People who have electricity here are those that had money to get the electricity lines to be extended to their homes. But you see those other poles they were put there by the government around 2013, but until now nothing,” a woman waiting for transport at the bus stop said.
And as the countdown to Christmas continues, there is an overriding feeling of despair among members of the Goromonzi community who opened up to the Independent about not being able to afford a loaf of bread.