Wednesday, 25 May 2016

MUGABE MARCH IN SHAMBLES

PREPARATIONS for today’s Zanu PF youth league’s million-man march in Harare were yesterday reportedly in shambles, with organisers scrambling to mobilise resources for the event, while provinces were failing to meet their target of assembling 100 000 people each for the march.

This also came amid fears that the gathering could trigger a health hazard, as the capital normally experiences water shortages and has inadequate public ablution facilities.

Although Zanu PF officials and the police wore a brave face over their capacity to deal with the expected huge crowd, analysts said it was unlikely the party would mobilise one million people into Harare, a city with a population of approximately 2,5 million.

Logistically, the party would need at least 12 000 buses to carry party youths from nine of the 10 provinces to the venue, with other provinces said to have commandeered private lorries, National Railways of Zimbabwe trains and school buses to transport their members.

Zanu PF deputy secretary for youth affairs, Kudzai Chipanga yesterday said all was in place for the march.

“Everything is in order now and we are just waiting for the day,” he said.

Asked if it was logistically possible for the provinces to mobilise 100 000 people each, Chipanga said: “It’s not possible for us to predict how many people will come, but we gave a target of 100 000 per province. I am not in the provinces, so I may not know.”

He said since the million-man march was a one-day event, participants would not stay long in the capital, relieving pressure on the organisers.

Police spokesperson, Senior Assistant Commissioner Charity Charamba said they had the capacity to maintain peace and stability in the capital, although Harare is said to have only 4 000 police officers.

“Police are prepared for those one million people. We have made arrangements for that,” she said.

However, political analyst Eldred Masunungure said even though Zanu PF had a superior capacity to mobilise compared to its competitors, the target number for today’s march was a pipe-dream.

“Technically, it’s very impossible to mobilise such a number, given that one million is almost half of the population of Harare, but you have to understand that Zanu PF has the ability and power to mobilise compared to their competitors,” he said.

“From a technical perspective and logistical view, putting one million people together is a mammoth task and not easy given the factional fights and divisions in the party. There seems to be no buy-in from all sectors and quarters in the party.”

Masunungure, vaguely, said the march would work in favour of one faction in the party.

“This will definitely work well for a certain faction within the party, even if they manage to raise half of the people, as it will show that it has support,” he said.

“But this does not mean that that faction has won the battle. It will depend on how it plans to outwit its rival.”

Political analyst, Ibbo Mandaza said: “I don’t think that the system is able to regiment such a number, we can’t call it mobilise. If it succeeds in doing so, then the system is still viable, but I doubt.”

A public health expert, who declined to be named, said the planned march would be a disaster on the city’s amenities, as Harare has no capacity to accommodate such a huge crowd.

“There are no facilities to host such a huge number of people in the city in terms of ablution facilities,” he said. “You need in excess of 1 000 toilets, with each toilet being used by at least 100 people. It’s very impossible for Harare to have enough water to be used for washing of hands after use of toilets at such a gathering.

“From a public health perspective, even half of the said figure cannot be accommodated by the facilities that Harare has.”

Zanu PF Midlands provincial spokesperson, Cornelius Mupereri admitted yesterday that moving such a big number was problematic.

“From Kwekwe, we have 24 buses that are taking people and the others that will participate will go by train. Other districts have also made their own arrangements for transport,” he said.

In Masvingo, Zanu PF officials were yesterday afternoon appealing for youths to attend after they initially showed lack of interest.

At around 4pm, an open truck laden with youths drove around the city with a loud hailer inviting interested party members to join their colleagues on the trip to Harare.

However, provincial political commissar Jeppy Jaboon said the province was ready for the march.

“Masvingo province is fully geared for the march and we have hired 45 buses and several seven-tonne pick-up trucks,” the upbeat Jaboon said.

“There is so much enthusiasm in the party about the march. We are leaving early in the morning.”

Manicaland youth chairperson Mubuso Chinguno said they had mobilised 150 buses and they would be travelling from midnight onwards to Harare.

In Harare, there were also reports that organisers were planning to force-march vendors to attend the event.

Some parents at schools in Mashonaland West said Zanu PF youths had ordered school heads to release school development association (SDA) buses to provide transport.

Zanu PF youth co-ordinator in the province, Tatenda Chitate said every government ministry was obliged to support the event.

Primary and Secondary Education ministry permanent secretary Sylvia Utete-Masango defended the use of SDA buses, saying her ministry had directed all schools to provide transport to people coming from their communities.

“Schools are, therefore, being requested to provide buses to people coming from their communities. The school provides a driver and one other member to take charge of the bus and food will be provided for the two. Fuel for the buses will also be provided and should be secured in advance,” she said. newsday

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