By Farai Chirimumimba
Although he arrived well after 4pm which is rather late to begin addressing a rally, in a show of defiance or probably a show of “force”, Vice-President General Constantino Chiwenga (Rtd) was composed and told a gathering at Chibuku Stadium in Chitungwiza (about 27 kilometres south of Harare) on Sunday that what happened at White City Stadium in Bulawayo a day before was history.
This was in reference to the bomb attack that state media apparently reported as targeting President Emmerson Mnangagwa who also managed to escape unharmed when a grenade reportedly thrown by an unknown assailant exploded as senior officials left the stage at the end of the rally.
State media reports that 42 people were injured including Vice-President Kembo Mohadi and Minister of Water, Climate and Environment and ZANU (PF) National Chairperson Oppah Muchinguri and ZANU (PF) National Commissar Rtd Lieutenant-General Engelbert Rugeje. However, as investigations continue, it is still not clear on who was the main target of the bomb.
Vice- President Chiwenga’s wife Mary was also injured but he weathered the storm telling supporters that a rally cannot be cancelled. “I know first (sic) that the rally here had been cancelled or there was that confusion kuti hatichaita rally kuno kuChitungwiza, hazvina mhosva hakuna rally inokanzurwa handiti… saka imi maita mauya kuno… (There was confusion to the fact that the Chitungwiza rally had been cancelled, but l want to assure you that a rally cannot be cancelled… l want to thank all of you for your attendance)
In an apparent reference to Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Chairperson Justice Priscilla Chigumba who two weeks ago said, “nothing short of an earthquake can stop elections” from going ahead has planned, Vice-President Chiwenga also said that nothing will stop the upcoming general elections on 30 July 2018.
“Nothing will stop the election in Zimbabwe, nothing at all; Zimbabwe is going for a new trajectory. A Zimbabwe we want a Zimbabwe which the people of Zimbabwe want and the harmonised elections come 30th of July will go ahead. That act of terrorism that happened in Bulawayo is nothing, it does not deter anyone. But if the colleagues running for the harmonised election on the 30th of July are afraid and are scared, they will be given security… the police will hunt down the criminal or those criminals. They will be hunted down and be brought before the law… We want an election which is free and fair, violent free and credible and (an) election that the people of Zimbabwe will say this is our election. These are the leaders that we have elected free of any influence…. Izvi zvanga zvichiitwa kana zvakaitika kuBulawayo hazvina nebasa,” (what happened in Bulawayo does not matter), he maintained.
The following are some of the major highlights of Chiwenga’s address in brief:
- Government has begun increasing capacity of Hwange power station’s unit 7 and 9 at a cost of US$1.2 billion.
- People should shun corruption and government as zero tolerance towards corruption.
- Government to build Kunzvi and Munda dams to supply Chitungwiza, Epworth, Harare and Norton with fresh water.
- Harare and Chitungwiza will be ICT hubs of the country.
- It’s sunset for land barons that have rocked Chitungwiza and most parts of the country in recent years as President
- Government will open more factories in Chitungwiza to create jobs.
- Maternity fees scraped for government clinics and hospitals.
- Blood transfusion that currently cost US$50 a pint will now be free in government clinics and hospitals.
- He implored people to use plastic money to easy cash shortages.
- Government will build better sewer reticulation in Chitungwiza.
- Government is in the process of re-opening closed mines throughout the country.
- Government will with immediate fact stop debt collectors from issuing summons to residence that have failed to pay rentals but, he encouraged residence to service debt.
- He implored people to shun violence ahead of harmonised elections.
- New dispensation is advocating for re-engagement with those we had a difficult relationship with in recent years.
- Development can only happen when ZANU-PF councilors are in control of town council.
Vice President Chiwenga also implored supporters to stop denigratory slogans since they don’t bring food on the table in reference to ZANU-PF’s slogan “pasi nemhandu” (Down with the enemy) which he said has been changed to “pamberi nedevelopment” (Forward with development) instead. He also said that government has completed a comprehensive infrastructure plan for Harare and is undertaking the same for Chitungwiza. “Tirikuvaka mese muHarare plan yacho yakatopera. Muno (in Chitungwiza) ndodairakuti velocal government vakutopedza (We are starting to build in Harare using a master plan we recently developed. I hope here (in Chitungwiza) local government is finalising the same).
Chiwenga also said that MDC councils have failed on service delivery. “Kuno kunenzvimbo dzakaita seAquatic yakagadzirwa zvakanaka kuti vana vange vachiita masports imomo yangodzimara yakati mbombombo tinoda kuti tiisimudze idzokere pakare (In Chitungwiza we have places like Aquatic Complex where children should be doing their sporting activities (a swimming pool built when Zimbabwe hosted the 1995 All Africa games) which is no longer functional. We want to re-open the facility) he said to the delight of supporters who erupted in wild cheers. He closed the rally with a message encouraging supporters to rally behind party candidates during upcoming harmonised elections. There may be several interpretations on why Chiwenga may have had the courage to attend a rally a day after a bomb attack but, there is no doubt that this was indeed a show of defiance and a daring challenge to the assailant or assailants.