Youth Interface: 'Bumper Crowds' Expected at Mugabe's Rally

Buses and cars are streaming into Zimbabwe's eastern city of Mutare, where President Robert Mugabe, 93, is due to hold the second of his youth rallies on Friday afternoon.

Rally-organisers say they're expecting 60 000 people to attend this rally - but rumours that all businesses are to be closed to force people to attend have been dispelled.

"Our iconic leader President Mugabe is a magnet [who] will attract a bumper crowd," provincial youth official Victor Saunyama told the local Manica Post.
President Robert Mugabe

A potholed road leading from the city centre past Sakubva township and towards the suburb of Dangamvura has been re-tarred in record time. Mugabe is due to open an "Information Communication Centre" at Dangamvura Post Office.

That's led to jokes on social media that if you want to get your road retarred in Zimbabwe, you need to open an internet cafe and invite the president. Ruling party officials have donated fuel - and in at least one instance, a cow, the Manica Post says.

Information Minister Chris Mushohwe pledged 1 640 litres of fuel; Finance Minister Patrick Chinamasa 5 000 litres and Energy and Power Development Minister Samuel Undenge enough fuel to power eight buses, according to the report. Giant screens are being set up outside Sakubva Stadium for those who can't get seats.

The paper says there'll be 32 'pick-up points' for Mutare residents to be able to get onto buses to get to the rally. But will they want to go? A pre-rally 'carnival' along the main shopping street early on Thursday afternoon got passersby watching - but very few participants.

There have been calls from the main opposition MDC for children and vendors to stay at home to avoid being force-marched to this rally.

Friday's rally is the second in a campaign of 10 pre-election rallies Mugabe plans to hold with particular focus on Zimbabwe's youth. They're seen as key to winning the polls next year.

Supporters of the president from Manicaland province (of which Mutare is the capital) want this kind of meeting every year, according to the Manica Post. Unemployment is high in Manicaland as it is in the rest of Zimbabwe - but informal trading is a lifeline for many. - News24


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