HARARE – Zanu PF has scrambled to spruce up the poor town of Marondera in preparation of President Robert Mugabe’s visit to the Mashonaland East provincial capital where he holds a mega rally at Rudhaka Stadium today.
For the duration of the week, the usually quiet town has been a hive of activity as bulldozers and engineers from Zesa went to work to make sure that Mugabe’s visit would mask the problems scarring the little town.
Mugabe’s rally in Marondera will kick-start a series of rallies across provinces as the nonagenarian begins his 2018 election push.
When the Daily News crew arrived in Marondera, it was greeted by sights of newly-paved surfaces leading to Rudhaka Stadium — with road engineers and pavers putting final road markings to freshly-tarred roads.
Staggeringly, a few metres away from the vicinity of today’s venue, raw sewage and large craters of potholes greeted our news crew.
There were no signs that these roads would be given the same treatment.
The venue, however, was receiving attention synonymous with the VVIPs that always follow Mugabe wherever he holds his rallies.
Hundreds of workers were out in full force putting final touches including setting up marquee tents which were set up with air conditioners and Wi-Fi.
Attempts to adorn the city, on the back of Mugabe’s visit in the town, drew mixed reactions as residents close to the stadium felt that the nonagenarian was at least leaving something “tangible” after his rally.
But for the suffering masses such as the food and second hand clothes vendors, the visit of Africa’s oldest leader, was a reminder of chaos and tension which usually accompany his rallies.
“It will be suicidal not to attend the rally because the president is coming. We have been told to attend but I would rather stay at home as I have nothing to gain from the rally,” a grim-faced vendor who spoke on condition of anonymity said.
Marondera was teeming with security details who manned all roads leading into town ahead of the Zanu PF leader’s visit.
Hordes of heavily-armed police patrolled the streets and scores of men in “dark glasses” were engrossed with what was happening at Rudhaka Stadium.
Zanu PF youth chairperson Kudzanai Chipanga, whose wing has organised today’s rally said they were expecting thousands of party supporters to swamp Rudhaka Stadium.
“We have finalised the preparations. We have been advised by the provincial youths’ leadership that tens of thousands of youths will come to the rally. The youths are excited to see their president. The women’s league executive led by First Lady Grace Mugabe will also attend the rally in support of their children. The rally will show that the president is still the real deal,” Chipanga told the Daily News.
Chipanga said Mugabe would use the Marondera rally to launch a voter mobilisation for the youths, whose participation in elections has been very low in previous elections.
Insiders, have however, said the nonagenarian would also use the rally as an opportunity to call the brawling factions to order in a bid to stem the growing fissures within Zanu PF, as the bigwigs fighting to succeed him escalate their mindless bloodletting.