OPPOSITION parties in Bulawayo yesterday threatened to mobilise their members to boycott President Robert Mugabe’s scheduled youth interface rally at White City Stadium on Saturday.
The parties urged residents to shun the “useless rally” in protest over Zanu-PF government’s ruinous economic policies that have caused closure of several factories in Bulawayo.
The boycott call came after Vice-President Phelekezela Mphoko addressed ruling party supporters in Bulawayo at the weekend and urged them to turn out in large numbers for the rally.
Bulawayo is considered as one of Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC strongholds.
MDC-T Bulawayo provincial spokesperson Felix Magalela Sibanda said: “We urge all free-minded Bulawayo residents to ignore this unwarranted so-called youth interface and continue with their activities as if nothing is taking place in Bulawayo, but continue to register in preparation for the 2018 plebiscite.”
“As MDC-T and MDC Alliance we see no compelling reason to hold the aforesaid assembly in a forgotten or ghost city, deliberately marginalised and neglected by successive Zanu-PF governments since 1980,” he added.
MDC deputy spokesperson Mbuso Siso said Mugabe should be ashamed to fly all the way from Harare to address the city’s hungry and jobless adults and youths.
“This is because the pensions they worked for vanished during the Gideon-Gono (former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor) era, the government can’t even look after the elderly through its social welfare or exempt them from paying council and Zesa bills.
“We encourage all of our citizens to go and register to vote, especially in this region where marginalisation takes place, to remove Zanu-PF from four decades of oppressing its own people. It took Zanu and Zapu over three decades to win independence and we are only in 17 years fighting Zanu-PF, which is not too long and rather not easy.”
Lucia Matibenga’s faction of the People’s Democratic Party described the rally as another opportunity for top Zanu-PF officials to loot State resources.
Zapu Bulawayo youth chairperson, Brian Ncube said: “To us it’s more of body-viewing than interface. All the same it’s the usual jamboree of insults, as the gatherings are only used to settle succession scores. It’s one of those platforms where (First Lady) Grace Mugabe will attack (Vice-President Emmerson) Mnangagwa, while her husband sleeps and dreams on the sofa.”
“For the lack of a viable plan to address it, clueless Mugabe will never be able to speak to the astonishing levels of youth unemployment and the sorry state of the once world class industries in Bulawayo. Mugabe is only coming to Bulawayo to further insult the people here, whose government has marginalised it since he assumed power,” Ncube said.
Zanu-PF Mpopoma-Pelandaba legislator, Joseph Tshuma recently claimed that the ruling party had mobilised for a massive turnout at the rally, adding Mugabe’s speech should focus on plans to revive the city’s collapsed industry.
“We are very keen on the President’s address, particularly on the revival of industry in Bulawayo that will see the re-emergence of big companies like the Cold Storage Company and revitalization of the National Railways of Zimbabwe,” Tshuma said.