By Andrew Kunambura
FORGET the pulpits and the hallelujahs, this day certainly belongs to politicians.
The tense political atmosphere gripping Zimbabwe ahead of the March 26 by-elections climaxes this Sunday with heavyweight political parties, Zanu PF and the Citizens’ Coalition for Change engage in elaborate power parades which has led pundits to declare it the Super Sunday.
Chamisa, who has quite clearly emerged from the supposed ashes of the MDC undercroft to be a formidable opposition political force under his new CCC outfit, will seek to show he commands the urban support as he seek to pull a bumper crowd at the iconic Zimbabwe Grounds in Highfield, Harare.
The famous playgrounds hosted Zimbabwe’s foremost nationalists, Joshua Nkomo and Robert Mugabe, who separately drew record political crowds retuning from exile at the end of the liberation war in 1980.
But since the turn of the millennium, with the ruling party’s urban support significantly waning, the grounds have been a citadel of opposition politicians, with the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai turning it into his own bastion.
CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere says even though Zanu PF and the government have tried fervently to stymie the rally, dubbed Yellow Sunday after the party’s theme colour, a bumper crowd was still expected.
Scores of the opposition party’s activists have also been arrested by police for mobilising for the rally.
The tension heightened Saturday when Zanu PF supporters allegedly blocked a rally by former CCC vice president Tendai Biti, who is seeking to regain his Harare East constituency after being controversially recalled from Parliament last year.
“Zanu PF thugs in Harare East reportedly under the instruction of (Zanu PF candidate) Mavis Gumbo have pitched tents at a venue CCC booked for a constituency rally today,” Fadzayi Mahere said.
“They have since attacked our youths. Police refused to act,” she said.
CCC activists were Friday arrested and tortured by police for wearing yellow regalia, including holding car rallies that police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi on Friday said were illegal.
Police set a number of strict conditions for the Highfield rally including banning processions to the venue, toyi-toying, chanting slogans and transporting of supporters to the venue — all ingredients of a successful rally.
Police also said the CCC must observe Covid-19 regulations, which outlaw large gatherings of above 100 people.
On the contrary, only last Saturday, President Emmerson Mnangagwa launched the Zanu PF’s by-election campaign in Epworth, where Zupco buses were commandeered to ferry thousands of supporters from across the country.
“All these efforts to frustrate the party shall come to naught. People will turn up in their numbers,” Mahere said.
“We have mobilised our supporters to attend their masses. The citizens are fired up and ready to go,” she added.
Mnangagwa will on the other hand hold his own rally in Marondera, Mashonaland East province and Zanu PF is, as per tradition, expected to bus several thousands of supporters from around the province and even beyond.
Politics, after all, is a game of numbers.
But for Zanu PF spokesman Chris Mutsvangwa, numbers on the opposition side do not worry the ruling party.
They, he says, do not necessarily translate into votes.
He said even if the CCC was to attract huge crowds, the ruling part was not worried because rallies were not a confirmation of winning the by-elections.
He said: “A rally attendance is not a voting booth. A rally in a particular place is definitely not an arbiter of total national power dispensation.”
“What would be of concern is the deep chasm of mistrust and the questionable loyalty of the MDC- Chamisa Chete Chete personalised political outfit to the Zimbabwe State. Chamisa Chete Chete carries a heavy albatross as a party ready to employ violence as an instrument of regime change, that much coveted goal of London and Washington,” the erudite Mutsvangwa said.
Whatever happens on Sunday and beyond, one thing for sure is the mad politicking season is upon us and shall be until the 2023 general election.