BY HARRIET CHIKANDIWA/PRIVILEDGE GUMBODETE
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday defiantly declared that opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has no chance of entering State House, saying the road to the highest office in the land was akin to going to China on foot.
Mnangagwa was addressing thousands of party faithful’s who were gathered at Epworth secondary schools for the launch of Zanu PF’s by-election campaign for the upcoming March 26 polls to fill over 130 vacant council and 12 parliamentary seats.
At the rally, it was a sea of yellow t-shirts and other regalia worn by Zanu PF supporters, some bussed from as far as Bulawayo.
In some parts of Harare and Chitungwiza, ruling party youths forced people to close their shops and informal markets to attend the rally.
Some commuters were left stranded as most of the Zupco bases were being used to ferry Zanu Pf supporters to the rally.
Mnangagwa emphatically said the Zambia scenario where opposition leader Haikande Hichilema defeated incumbent Edgar Lungu would never happen in Zimbabwe.
“This Chamisa led party Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) will not rule Zimbabwe,” he declared.
“Some are thinking that now Zambia is being ruled by the opposition and they are now overzealous thinking that it will happen here in Zimbabwe.
“Go and tell these opposition men that if one starts walking from here to China, he will reach there before the opposition reaches State House.”
Chamisa unveiled the CCC recently after MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora claimed the MDC Alliance name and symbols.
Chamisa, who narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in the disputed 2018 elections, is likely to square off with the Zanu PF leader in the 2023 polls.
CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere yesterday evening said Chamisa’s victory was certain ‘whether Mnangagwa liked it or not,’ raising the political stakes ahead of the elections.
“We are pleased to know that CCC has gone viral and has caused Zanu PF and Mnangagwa to get into panic mode.
“We know that it is the people who will decide who gets into State House,” Mahere told The Standard in an interview.
“Only those who are afraid of the people will make unconstitutional statements like that.
“We remain focused on our goal of getting six million votes for the presidency, a two thirds majority in Parliament and a clean sweep in local authorities.
“We will get to State House whether Mnangagwa likes it or not.”
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa failed to deliver on his promise to dole out title deeds to an estimated 80 000 dwellers, who have not regularised their housing stands and informal markets in Epworth.
The structures, some of them built on wetlands, faced demolition.
As Mnangagwa spoke, the crowd looked disinterested with others having discussions of their own.
One section was discussing the latest Toyota Land Cruisers and other top of the range models that were packed at the event.
The crowd only paid attention when Mnangagwa started talking about the title deeds.
Upon announcement that there were no title deeds to be given out at the rally, disgruntled party members attempted to leave the venue but armed soldiers and police beat them back.
“Unfortunately, we cannot give anyone title deeds at this rally as it needs planning,” Mnangagwa said.
Last week, the ruling party had said Mnangagwa would use the rally to hand out the title deeds to people whose houses face demolition in a desperate bid to win votes in the upcoming elections.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga and several other ministers attended the rally, which began mid-morning and ended late into the afternoon.
During the 2018 elections campaign, Zanu PF pledged to build 2000 schools by 2023, rehabilitate and establish at least one vocational training centre per administrative district, establish at least one new hospital per administrative district by 2023 and deliver at least 1.5 million affordable housing among others.
Most of the promises have not been fulfilled.