Mnangagwa lauded for not forcing people to rally

Mnangagwa lauded for not  forcing people to rally
Published: 24 May 2018 (311 Views)
In A development that marked a clear departure from former president Robert Mugabe-era tactics, Zanu-PF turned a corner by hosting President Emmerson Mnangagwa's rally at Sakubva Stadium on Saturday without frog-marching vendors and forcing closure of business to boost numbers at the gathering.

It was business as usual in the central business district with many locals oblivious of the presence of the Zanu-PF leader in the city as the party dumped its hitherto stock-in-trade mobilisation tool - coercion.

In Sakubva, only the second-hand clothes flea market was closed as it lies right at the entrance of the venue while the fruit and vegetable market and second-hand shoe markets operated undisturbed by the event.

This, however, did not prevent genuinely curious locals as well as Zanu-PF members from packing the stadium - although the numbers were not as outrageous as Mugabe's youth interface rally which had people from across the province after months of mobilisation and busing.

While there were some people from outside the city it was clearly its district leadership and not distraught and disoriented villagers as they came by bus.

Zanu-PF aspiring candidate for Mutare Central Nancy Saungweme, whose prospective constituency was hosting the rally, said while she was nervous about mobilisation, they would not coerce people to attend.

"I'm nervous because the president is coming into my constituency and that at very short notice but no, we are not going to close down people's businesses or compel anyone to attend the rally. People are genuinely excited at attending the rally.

"If there is any disappointment it is for the short notice because people really wanted to mobilise well to give (him) a rousing welcome.

"But then this is not a properly scheduled rally but something that was just squeezed in at short notice because the president was around on government business," Saungweme said before the rally.

A snap survey by the Eastern News showed a lot of excitement by residents for the party had respected their right to freedom association.

"This is an exciting development. I hope the party will continue to respect people's rights to free association by not disrupting their economic activities to try to shore up their numbers during rallies because if anything, that was making them very unpopular with urban voters," James Vheremu, a vendor, said.

Another vendor said while she felt that her return onto the sidewalk had been facilitated by the party, she could not avoid the lure of a Saturday morning business opportunity for the rally.

"I may not have gone to the rally but the party has my full support, especially that it now respects that Saturday is a particularly good day for some of us to do business," Memory Mabwe, another city centre vendor, said.

Vendors at the Sakubva vegetable market said they had been told to continue with their business but encouraged to also attend.

"We are really excited about the economic benefits of doing business on such a day because all these people are going to give us business and we hope it will stay like that throughout the campaign period," a vendor who declined to be named said.

- dailynews

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