Bulawayo gears up for Zanu-PF party

2011-11-19 14:50

With less than three weeks to go before President Robert Mugabe and Zanu-PF descend en masse on Bulawayo, where the city will host its “crucial” Zanu-PF people’s conference, the city is consumed by last-minute preparations to spruce up its image.

Potholed roads to the venue, the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF), are being filled by city council workers. Road signs in the area are also being re-painted.

City Press understands from a senior ZITF official that venue security had also been stepped up, with daily security routines undertaken by police, security agents and the army.

Isaac Dakamela, Zanu-PF’s Bulawayo chairperson said, “Time is ticking away and we are busy trying to put everything in place.
“The senior leadership will be here on Friday to check on our progress”.

At least 6 000 Zanu-PF delegates are expected to converge on Bulawayo from December 6 to 10 for the conference with the theme “Defending national sovereignty, consolidating indigenisation and economic empowerment”.  Zambian President Michael Sata will be the party’s guest of honour. 

Zanu-PF conferences are well-known as platforms for the echoing of revolutionary and independence rhetoric extolling Mugabe’s leadership and usually launching into a diatribe against Western governments. The conferences also offer a spectacular sideshow of the party’s wealth.

Party heavyweights, such as the prominent Harare businessman Philip Chiyangwa, try to outdo each other by showing up daily in different top of the range vehicles, including Range Rovers, Mercedes Benz new models and BMWs.

Zanu-PF delegates bused in from the 10 provinces in the country are spoiled lavishly and enjoy fully paid stays at four and five star hotels—through funds sourced from local businesses.

This year’s conference is estimated to be costing Zanu-PF nearly $1 million (about R8?million).  Normally traditional dishes of beef, local beer and sadza – a porridge made from mealies – are served throughout the conference, but the party is also known to use the occasion to display a Eurocentric tendency for prawns, Johnnie Walker and Hennessey whisky.

Didymus Mutasa, the Zanu-PF secretary for administration, said: “It’s going to be a great conference. “Our brothers from the Southern African development Community (SADC) will also be there and their presence will allow the facilitation of mutual exchanges”.

Political observers have intimated that the party will focus on gaining youth support in the upcoming elections, as this group makes up the bulk of Zimbabwe’s voters.

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