8 things we learnt from the Zanu PF rally held in Bulawayo

    Zimbabwe’s ruling party elites descended in Matebeleland Province this Saturday, for a Presidential Youth Interface rally. The second last of a batch of successive events where the star attraction, President Mugabe was meant to ‘interface’ with youth in the run up to next year’s elections.

    Events offer a time for reflection. As with all rallies where Mugabe speaks, and his wife accompanies him, and is given a chance to speak, we are left with plenty to learn. This one was no different.

    The Mugabe’s still have no respect for Ndebele speaking people, or any other tribes

    President Robert Mugabe has made no secret of his disdain for the people of Matebeleland, and their close neighbours, the Karanga speaking people of Midlands and Masvingo.

    In the early 1980s, he instigated and led a brutal genocide that left thousands of people dead. Some estimates place the body count at 20,000.

    The President’s father is often rumoured to have left Mugabe’s mother for a Ndebele woman, and thus condemned baby Bob to years of suffering while growing in a broken family. It is often used as an explanation on why the President ‘hates’ Ndebele people so brazenly.

    The account is no more than rumour though. But Mugabe’s lack of respect for the Ndebele people is not. After the death of Joshua Nkomo, Mugabe went for a decade and half before appointing a truly Ndebele (former ZAPU) cadre to the Presidium, therefore breaking the terms of the 1987 Unity Accord.

    Yesterday the President re-affirmed this. His party officials, one after the other all spoke in their Zezuru dialect of the Shona language. No translation was offered.

    All attendees of the event who do not speak or understand Shona were condemned to listening to the Mugabe’s speaking to themselves.

    To top it all off, the President described the people of Midlands and Masvingo as ‘idiots’, based on their support for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

    Grace Mugabe’s obsession with Mnangagwa continues

    For the last 8 or so events that Grace Mugabe has been given a chance to speak. Be it a rally, business forum, youth empowerment event, Grace Mugabe tears and insults her husband’s deputy. She does so relentlessly.

    On Saturday, she did not relent either.

    Grace comes out of the bag

    Saturday’s attacks by Grace Mugabe graduated from mere assaults on the dignity of Mnangagwa however. For the first time, Grace Mugabe explicitly stated her interest to join the Presidium.

    “What is wrong with me being the Vice President? Am i not a party member?” she said.

    But its not just being the VP she wants. She wants Mnangagwa’s crown.

    “The VP knows his seat should be reserved for a woman. We put him there. We want to remove him now”

    As the leader of the Women’s League, Grace Mugabe is an automatic choice to replace Mnangagwa.

    Grassroots structures despise Grace

    When the Mugabe’s spoke in Shona, they were obviously talking to themselves. The majority of people in the stadium did not understand the language being used.

    However, the message of Grace’s power bid transcends all languages. Everyone in attendance is aware of “the bedroom coup”. And when Grace’s turn to speak came she was booed, leading her to state that she did not care about jeers because she has the power.

    Yet whatever power she has, seems to come from the very top only. At the base of the structure, she is despised.

    Mugabe throws the kitchen sink

    During former Vice President Joice Mujuru’s sack saga Mugabe never once spoke against his deputy. He left the vile attacks to his wife, while he exercised silence. On Saturday, having watched his wife and her gang fail to dislodge Mnangagwa, he took the stage in what is surely the kitchen sink of empty threats.

    Mugabe is not a man who conserves his power. When he can dispose of an enemy he will. When he resorts to threats, he is cornered and desperate. Just as he threatened to genocide war vets nearly two years ago. And still today he can’t control them.

    Mugabe was visibly angry. But not angrier than he appeared at Harare’s airport several weeks ago when he physically confronted his deputy, shoving him in the chest and hurling his arms at him.

    Mnangagwa proving difficult to dislodge

    When Mugabe physically assaulted his deputy, many thought the end was nigh then. In fact after each rally, Mnangagwa’s obituary has been written. He has still survived, silently.

    Mnangagwa represents a military system that is very organised and well knit. It will not be destroyed or dismantled at rallies or senseless church events. It can only be dismantled by sufficiently enlightening the masses and allowing them to participate in democratic processes.

    Grace Mugabe is clearly failing to dislodge him with the ease with which she dislodged Mujuru. Likely because Mnangagwa’s support does not come from character and reputation but solid military structures. Insults have no effect on his power pillars.

    Youth Interface rallies have nothing to do with the youth

    Despite Robert Mugabe wearing a berret hat to give himself the appearance of a youthful thug, there was nothing youthful about the actual rally, and nothing tangible about youth was discussed. This has been the case for all of near 10 rallies held thus far.

    Harare will be the showdown before congress

    One rally is left. In the capital. It will be the ultimate showdown before the elective congress, which will seek to amend the constitution and make Grace Mugabe ruler (VP first, then acting President, then President)

    Traditionally Harare is near meaningless, because Zanu PF support is marginal. But being the last rally before congress. It will be the showdown before the showdown.

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