ZANU PF factional fights have been blamed for the embarrassingly low
turn-out at the government-sponsored Workers’ Day commemorations
addressed by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa at Rufaro Stadium on
Mnangagwa was forced to address just a handful of people, among them bussed Zanu PF supporters.
His loyalists yesterday jumped to blame the G40 faction in Zanu PF for sabotaging the event to spite Mnangagwa, who is linked to the rival Team Lacoste group.
“This is clear sabotage. G40 wanted to send a message that Mnangagwa has no support and doesn’t command a huge following both in the party and civil service,” one Zanu PF official said on condition of anonymity.
“Under normal circumstances at similar events, Zanu PF will be asked to bus people to attend. Many buses will be provided for such events. However, this did not happen because G40 people withdrew the buses. People wanted to come, but they had no means considering the current economic situation prevailing in the country.”
The official added: “We had gathered information on the planned sabotage and we were fully aware that the stadium would be empty. However, the VP was not worried about that and he will not be affected by such plots.”
Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions (ZFTU) secretary-general Kenias Shamuyarira confirmed suspected political interference had spoiled the day.
“It’s true political meddling was there. We were given the mandate to organise at short notice together with the Ministry of Labour,” he said.
“It was then the duty of the federation and the ministry to co-ordinate everything because it was for workers, but in the process, we have seen political activists trying to assist, yet they were trying to measure their popularity and to try and outshine one another within political factionalism.”
Shamuyarira said ZFTU had been assured that transport was catered for and the money was given to Zanu PF provincial commissar Shadreck Mashayamombe, but many workers were not ferried.
“He (Mashayamombe) should explain what happened. A lot of workers were left stranded for transport. In a post-mortem review, we discovered that we should not include political parties at such commemorations. Politicians should stay away,” Shamuyarira said, adding it was wrong to group workers along political party lines.
Mnangagwa loyalists particularly blamed Labour minister Prisca Mupfumira, Local Government minister Saviour Kasukuwere and Mashayamombe for the fiasco.
Both Kasukuwere and Mupfumira were reportedly in a Cabinet meeting yesterday when NewsDay sought their comment, while Mashayamombe refused to be drawn into discussing the matter.
However, some within G40 took credit for organising the few people who attended the
commemorations, saying had it not been for them, the stadium would have been totally empty.
“As a party, we mobilised 10 buses through Zupco and those people you saw there were mobilised by Zanu PF and a few by the Zimbabwe Federation of Trade Unions,” a Zanu PF official linked to the G40 said.
“The Ministry of Public Service was supposed to provide at least 20 buses to ferry the people, but we were shocked that the buses went empty. When information was passed that ED (VP Mnangagwa) was the guest of honour, the zeal to mobilise went off.”
Most of the vendors forced to attend the belated May Day commemorations walked away after grabbing free food and T-shirts, forcing Mnangagwa to address an empty stadium.
NewsDay witnessed some of the Zanu PF members stampede for the free food, with police battling to maintain order and, in some cases, having to use vicious dogs.
The food included a pack of buns and a bottle of fruit juice from Alpha and Omega Dairy, run by the First Family.
Soon after receiving the food packs, which were being given at the entrance to the stadium, some of the people quickly made their way out of the stadium returning to their workstations, leaving a handful to listen to the VP.
“We don’t have jobs. Why should we go in the stadium to listen to empty promises? It is now a vendors’ day,” one vendor shouted as he made his way out of the stadium, with a pack of buns in hand.
Mugabe’s Zanu PF party had hoped to raise a capacity crowd for the May Day commemorations to counter the well-attended event held by the main opposition MDC-T-alligned Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions at Gwanzura Stadium in Highfield on Sunday. newsday