Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has denied claims his Zanu PF party is forcing vendors and shop owners to abandon their businesses in order to attend President Robert Mugabe’s star rallies.
Mnangagwa had been asked by Mutare Central legislator, Innocent Gonese, during Wednesday’s question and answer session in parliament if it was government policy that market stall holders and shops should shut down whenever “the President of Zanu PF” was having his countrywide rallies.
“May I assure the Honourable member that there is no Zanu PF policy which requires shops to be closed when there is a Zanu PF rally,” Mnangagwa said in a short response.
But the MDC-T legislator was quick to cite a newspaper report linking Minister of State for Manicaland province Mandi Chimene and the Zanu PF Secretary for Youth Kudzanai Chipanga to statements that “all roads must be leading to Sakubva Stadium and all shops are going to be closed to ensure maximum attendance” for President Mugabe’s Mutare rally next week.
Gonese also asked if the two shall be brought to order for comments which clearly violated government and Zanu PF policy as was explained by the country’s substantive vice president.
Responding to the follow up question, Mnangagwa turned comical before saying those being forced to attend Zanu PF rallies shall be taken to court.
“Mr. Speaker Sir,” Mnangagwa said, “the Honourable member would want to know whether it is true that all roads are leading to Mutare on a particular day – I doubt that all roads will lead to Mutare.
“Some will go to Masvingo and some roads will go to Bulawayo.”
He continued, “Secondly, I would like to inform the House that it is not Zanu PF policy to force people to attend Zanu PF rallies.
“If anybody who has a relative who was forced, the courts are open for them to say, ‘I was forced to go to a Zanu PF rally’.
“We do not force people to attend our rallies. Thirdly, we have no policy – both as Government as well as Zanu PF – to force people to stop their businesses because there is a rally.
“People must eat and work and it is our policy that people must work and earn a living.”
President Mugabe has all but began his campaigns for the 2018 elections starting with the so-called youth interface rallies in all the country’s provinces.
The Zimbabwean leader is on June 16 expected to visit Mutare for his Manicaland rally.
Zanu PF has often come under fire for abusing state resources such as food handouts, buses owned by the state run Zupco during party gatherings.