Million-Man March To Gobble $600 000

THE Zanu PF youth league’s one million-man march, slated for this Wednesday in Harare to prop up President Robert Mugabe’s waning public support, is expected to gobble over $600 000, with the bulk of the money squeezed out of ailing parastatals, private firms and the few remaining white commercial farmers.

Sources involved in mobilising resources for the political jamboree, which has been dismissed by opposition parties as a waste of resources, said they have agreed on a provisional budget of $600 000 to fund transport needs for all 10 provinces, food and accommodation for the delegates.

All the provinces have been ordered to transport at least 100 000 members, who would march to an open space next to the Rainbow Towers Hotel in Harare, where they would be addressed by Mugabe.

Youth league secretary for finance, Tongai Kasukuwere, said each province had been tasked to raise enough money to transport and feed its delegates, while the national executive would be responsible for hosting invited guests and printing solidarity T-shirts for the march.

“We don’t have a national fundraising team because we have assigned each province to mobilise its own money and see how they can fund their programmes. We will be receiving people here and, of course, we will take care of invited guests and other necessities,” he said.
In a letter soliciting donations, Bulawayo youth league secretary for finance, Davies Muhambi said they were targeting to spend at least $50 000 as a province.

“Our budget requirement for the event stands at $50 000,” he wrote.

“The amount will go towards meeting the requirements in the following categories: diesel — 26 000 litres, flour — six tonnes, juices — 5 000 litres, 100 buses and cash towards various payments.”

Loss-making parastatal, Zupco has also been ordered to release nearly 200 buses, while government and mission schools have been commandeered to donate their buses, lorries and small vans to ferry the youths from various provinces.

The host, Harare, has reportedly been tasked to raise $50 000 for printing of more than 200 000 T-Shirts, caps, bottled water and to feed senior party members.

Zanu PF deputy secretary for youth affairs, Kudzai Chipanga yesterday said: “All the provincial executives met at the weekend to finalise on modalities. Each and every province will carry its own people to and from Harare.

“Masvingo and part of Mashonaland provinces will assemble at Rufaro Stadium, Manicaland and the bulk of Mashonaland East and West provinces will be at East 24, Mashonaland Central at Cork Road close to South African Embassy, Harare, Matabeleland South and North and Bulawayo provinces will assemble at the National Sports Stadium.”

The Wednesday event comes against a backdrop of grinding poverty, where at least four million people need urgent food aid as the economy continues to nose dive.

But all this has not deterred Mugabe, who last month blew $2 million hosting over 10 000 war veterans during a meeting, which only lasted three hours.

Early this year, Mugabe shelled out $800 000 on his lavish 92nd birthday celebrations in drought-stricken Masvingo province.

This came shortly after his party, Zanu PF, had flown its entire central committee membership from Harare to Victoria Falls for the Zanu PF national people’s conference in December, blowing nearly $300 000 on travel alone and another $10 million in accommodation and food.

Former Finance minister Tendai Biti has claimed that Mugabe always withdrew $4 million from Treasury each time he travelled out of the country.

This year alone, the President has travelled more than 20 times, meaning he would have spent $80 million in travel alone if Biti’s projections were true.

Opposition parties and activists have also blasted government after it emerged that it was funding First Lady Grace Mugabe rallies at taxpayers’ expense.