Mugabe's supporters in one million-man march

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe. PHOTO | FILE 

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF will Wednesday hold a so-called million-man march in support of the ageing leader.

President Mugabe is preparing to stand for another term in 2018.

The march, to be held in the capital Harare, is being organised by the youth league of the party.

It comes amid claims by First Lady Grace Mugabe that a Zanu-PF faction allegedly led by Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, wants to topple the 92-year-old leader.

Liberation war

Veterans of Zimbabwe’s liberation war initially opposed the match saying it was being organised by a faction that was misleading the president’s wife.

President Mugabe last Friday said he was not going to step down until he defeats Western countries that wanted to effect regime change in Zimbabwe.

He has been in power since 1980 and according to Zimbabwe’s constitution, he can only run for one more term in office.

Zanu-PF says the march would show that Zimbabweans were still solidly behind President Mugabe despite a biting economic crisis that has seen unemployment rising to over 90 per cent.

Scarce resources

However, the opposition argues that the march was a waste of scarce resources. The ruling party will bus in at least 10,000 supporters from nine provinces to the capital.

The Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) opposition party led by President Mugabe’s former deputy Joice Mujuru said the ruling party wanted to divert attention away from the economic crisis through the march.

“The march is about creating an impression to the outside world that Zanu-PF and its government that is short of ideas on how to resuscitate an economy that is already on life support should be trusted and supported,” ZimPF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told the NewsDay newspaper.

To step down

Former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) urged its supporters to use the march to tell President Mugabe to step down.

“lf anything, whoever is going to march on May 25 should be marching against poverty, joblessness, hunger, destitution and corruption.

“It is these ills that have been the hallmark of Robert Mugabe's unparalleled mismanagement of the national economy over the past few decades,” MDC-T spokesperson Obert Gutu was quoted saying.

A similar march was held by the former liberation war fighters in 2008 when President Mugabe was facing internal calls to step down.

Force police

Zimbabwe usually deals ruthlessly with opposition protestors and MDC had to seek the intervention of the courts to force police to clear its own march set for May 28.

MDC wants to protest against job losses and the deteriorating economy.

Last month Mr Tsvangirai led thousands of his supporters in a march on the streets of Harare against the same issues but only after the High Court stopped the police from disrupting the demonstration.

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