By Johannes Chin’ombe
Masvingo, February 26. 2016 – GOVERNMENT has deployed all its cohesive agencies in the city which hosts President Robert Mugabe’s 92nd birthday bash this weekend.
Residents say they felt uneasy with the tense environment brought by the conspicuous deployment in the country’s ancient city over the past two weeks.
This also follows threats to disrupt the extravagant event by the MDC-T and groups opposed to the Zimbabwean leader’s propensity to splurge on a simple birthday event when the country faces massive starvation.
The bash is expected to chew up to $800 000, funds which have been sourced, sometimes through alleged extortion on civil servants, firms and ordinary citizens.
The main event is set for the Great Zimbabwe Monuments, some 27km from the city, but some festivities, which include a musical gala, will be held in the city.
MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai openly told his supporters at several rallies he held across the province that they should disrupt the party after they alleged being forced to contribute towards it.
“Let us go there dressed in our party regalia and disrupt the bash if they chase you away from the bash,” Tsvangirai told party supporters at a recent Gutu rally.
“Disrupt the bash if they do not want you to be part of the celebrations because our people are being forced to contribute money for the bash.
“Attend and eat that food but if they try to chase you, spoil the food with soil before you leave.”
Scores of MDC-T youths on Tuesday held a march in the centre protesting the lavish bash but Zanu PF provincial political commissar Jeppy Jaboon dismissed the protest as a non-event.
Ousted Zanu PF provincial chairperson, Ezra Chadzamira, under fire for mobilising a group of war veterans to join the abortive meeting in Harare two weeks ago, and feared to be plotting against the bash, denied such plans.
“War vets were bitter by being blocked to hold their gathering recently but those who say we are mobilising them to go on and disturb the presidential bash are spreading falsehoods,” he said.
Chadzamira said war veterans were in fact working towards the success of the veteran leader’s party, which is expected to draw thousands to the area.
Residents and local tourists who visited the monuments told RadioVOP that they felt uneasy over the conspicuous presence of security operatives.
“We are no longer free to enjoy our chats in public places. The most affected are us who frequent bars as you never know what the person next to you is up for since there are a lot of new faces of which we believe are the heartless CIOs,” said one Brian, a Rujeko high density suburb resident.
Solomon Run’anga, a Masvingo resident who works as a driver said roadblocks had been increased in parts of the area.
Local tourists interviewed by RadioVOP were unsettled by searches they went through when they visited the monuments last week.
“We are regular visitors here but the way in which our two vehicles were searched upon arrival was just unusual,” said one Pardon Dzumbira.