MUTARE – Students at tertiary institutions here have been frogmarched to a massive clean-up ahead of President Robert Mugabe’s youth interface rally on Friday.
Zanu PF officials have also ordered the closure of Sakubva flea market two days before the rally, with council officials working around the clock to unclog blocked sewage lines around the venue, with roads being resurfaced overnight.
Mutare Polytechnic students interviewed by the Daily News at Meikles Park prior to the clean-up campaign said they were just ordered onto a bus.
“Our class was just told to get onto the bus and come for the clean-up and we were never consulted,” a student who declined being named fearing victimisation said.
Marymount and Mutare Teachers’ College students claimed they had volunteered.
“Those who were interested to come had their names written earlier and there was no compulsion. We only gave this importance because of the national strategic studies subject we do,” a Mutare Teachers’ College female student said.
“It is part of our culture to clean our homes in preparation for an important visitor,” a Mary Mount Teacher’s College student added.
National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) provincial spokesperson David Mukunda slammed the disruption of school and college work for the clean-up exercise.
“It’s the responsibility of City of Mutare to clean the city. Students should not be coerced to participate in any clean-up campaign.
“As parents, our duty is to pay fees for our children to learn and not to clean the city on behalf of other political parties,” Mukunda said.
Urban schools have received communiqués instructing them to avail children to the rally, with those across the province expected to comply with minister of State for Provincial Affairs Mandiitawepi Chimene’s instruction to avail their buses to Zanu PF youths.
“We have received an order from the minister to have Zanu PF youths use our buses to go to the rally but there is no information as yet on whether we will have the fuel reimbursed,” a deputy headmaster of a school in Chimanimani told the Daily News.
ZimRights chairperson Passmore Nyakureba said the whole effort was aimed at giving pretence of order in the city in preparation of the president’s visit.
“The people that are handling the president’s itinerary and protocol are obviously and clearly abusing their powers and responsibilities.
“They want to keep the president in the dark and also leave him in an ignorant state in which he doesn’t know what is going on and what it is his government has failed to do over the past 36 years. They want him to believe that the country is working and functioning properly and that is a clear case of the abuse of the president,” Nyakureba said.
MDC youth executive member Knowledge Nyamhoka said it was well that they resurfaced the road considering the president’s advanced age.
“Our roads are so bad it would have been a conspiracy to kill him if they had not reworked them. I would also want him to come to my rural home in Nyamajura because the road would only then be attended to,” Nyamhoka said tongue-in-cheek.
He laughed at the fact that the road was only worked for less than 20 metres beyond where the president will turn into Sakubva Stadium.
“I’m sure they trust that his eye-sight is failing and he will not see the gullied road beyond where he turns off into the stadium,” Nyamhoka, who is campaigning for people to stay away from the rally, said.