Anti-sanctions march: ZANU PF, govt in ‘blame-game’ over low turnout

THE poor attendance at the government organised anti-sanctions march held last Friday has triggered accusations and counter accusations over who ‘dropped the ball’ in crowd mobilisation between top Zanu PF and government officials, Zim Morning Post has learnt.

The giant National Sports Stadium, which has a seating capacity of 60 000, was sparsely occupied with the better half of the paltry crowd pre-occupied with scrambling for freebies outside the venue.

Some of them were recorded on video stashing the food in their bags to feed their families back home against the backdrop of escalating food prices.

This development has caused fissures between top government and ruling party officials, with both parties pointing fingers at each other for responsibility of the ‘boob’.

Zanu PF national political commissar Victor Matemadanda has been on the receiving end and accused of bungling the mobilisation of marchers, resulting in the poor turn out.

Matemadanda has, however, vehemently denied responsibility of mobilising the crowd, saying it was not party business but a national and State event.

Speaking to Zim Morning Post on Monday, he said:

“Well, I am not blaming anyone here but let me make it clear that the anti-sanctions march was a State event, organised by government and with backing from Sadc.

“That is why you see that we, as a party, never distributed party regalia because we don’t hijack national events.

“The responsible authorities in government should have done their homework and delivered a better mobilisation strategy,” Matemadanda said.

He went on to blast the timing of freebies distribution to the crowd.

“Look at the way food and t-shirts were distributed; it was ill timed.

“The bulk of the people had to make sure they got access to food and t-shirts first before attending to the business of the day; that was a blunder.

“Even the number of buses allocated to Harare province was not enough, basing on the population of Harare,” he said.

Some top government officials, who declined to be named, piled the blame on the Zanu PF national commissar and insisted that the ruling party was mandated to mobilise people in all State events.

“It was Matemadanda who bungled; it is the duty of the party to mobilise people in such events.

“It is not a secret; there is precedence of almost similar events where the party was in the forefront,” said the official.

Top security sources also told this publication that government had been advised not to use the National sports Stadium as the venue given that Harare is an opposition MDC stronghold.

They were notified that the National Sports Stadium was not a good venue because Harare is an MDC stronghold and mobilisation was going to be difficult,” the source said.

But some officials relied on Harare South and and Epworth figures where they estimated that close to 60 000 people will be mobilised.

“The idea venue for Harare was Rufaro.”

The government, in solidarity with Sadc, is blaming years of United States-led sanctions for devastating economic conditions in the country, including galloping inflation and severe shortages of basic goods and services.

In his speech on Friday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa categorically stated that sanctions must be wholesomely removed forthwith.

Ngazviende, ngazviende, ngazviende hatizvidi (remove sanctions now, they must go).

“Today we arise and collectively say enough is enough,” Mnangagwa said.

“The illegal sanctions are an albatross to the development, well-being and prosperity of the people of Zimbabwe.

“We call on the US to immediately and unconditionally remove the sanctions for the sake of our children,” Mnangagwa added.

Meanwhile, EU ambassador to Zimbabwe Timo Olkkonen and US foreign relations committee chair Senator Jim Risch poured cold water over the relevance of the march, arguing that there was need for reforms and upholding of human rights in Zimbabwe.