Sunday News Reporters
THOUSANDS of people in Bulawayo and Gweru yesterday marched in the two cities’ Central Business Districts in solidarity with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces who stepped in last week to weed out corrupt elements around President Mugabe who are behind the political and socio-economic challenges confronting the nation.
The main march and rally was held in Harare and was led by the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans’ Association.
The marches attracted people from across the political divide who also demanded the resignation of President Mugabe, following a resolution passed by all Zanu-PF provinces.
In Bulawayo, protesters also threatened to besiege the Bulawayo Central and Saurcetown police stations denouncing the police against “corrupt elements” in the force.
They sang songs denouncing corruption within the police force.
Residents raced through intersections, raising their hands and Zimbabwean flags while also chanting slogans. Some were seen dancing on moving vehicles and on top of buses saying they had experienced “real independence”.
The march started from the Bulawayo City Hall Car Park at 9am, proceeding to the late Vice-President Dr Joshua Nkomo’s statue, before proceeding to the Central Police Station and the Large City Hall.
Some of the people sang and danced to revolutionary songs, proceeding to the State House.
Trucks from the Zimbabwe National Army then barricaded the road leading to the State House as the crowd was advancing.
One senior officer told the crowd to turn back as their “pleas” had been noted. People did not resist and marched back to town. Many could be heard saying they were educated but jobless.
“We sell airtime and we are street vendors but we carry degrees and Masters Degrees, we do not want to fight but we want to put food on the table,” said one man.
In Gweru people marched along Lobengula Avenue and turned into Robert Mugabe Way holding placards denouncing the G40 cabal in the ruling party and demanding President Mugabe to step down.
A long procession of protesters holding placards and chanting revolutionary songs, also denounced First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe.
The people later dispersed following the peaceful march. Yesterday morning 40 buses with people from Midlands’ eight districts went to Harare for the solidarity rally organised by war veterans.
Meanwhile, our Harare Bureau reports that children of war veterans have vowed to promote the values their parents stood for in ensuring equal access to resources and better livelihoods for all Zimbabweans.
Children of Veterans of Zimbabwe Liberation Struggle secretary-general Cde Pardon Mangwende said children of war veterans fully supported yesterday’s war vets-organised march in Harare to express solidarity with the Zimbabwe Defence Forces’ intervention in the country’s political and socio-economic challenges.
“We are happy our fathers managed to restore their value. We are children and we follow whatever our fathers want and say, we agree with everything they are advocating today,” he said in an interview at Zimbabwe Grounds.
Asked why their association had for long been silent, he said: “Some of us were getting money and most of us supported them because of fear. You could lose your life if you spoke out. We hope a new Zimbabwe will come with peace and no fear.”
Cde Mangwende said the children of war veterans wanted a new national dispensation.
“We want a leader who will protect the legacy of our fathers. Whoever our fathers and the Zimbabweans want, if that person is chosen in respect to the Constitution, we will support him or her,” he said.
Members of the National Youth Service echoed these sentiments. Zimbabwe National Youth Service Graduates’ Association secretary-general Cde Abson Madusise said it was not good that an icon like President Mugabe was now faced with such a situation.
“It’s sad our President had to go this way. He was once an icon and a dignified send-off would have befitted him but he and his wife had completely lost it.
In the National Youth Service, we were taught discipline. Through the song Nzira Dzemasoja we are told ‘taurai zvine tsika kuruzhinji rwevanhu’ but this woman belittled elders in public. She had no decorum at all.”
Cde Madusise said National Youth Service graduates were ecstatic that the people of Zimbabwe had come out in full force to express their displeasure with the status quo.
He went on: “I was a Zanu-PF district official in Masiyephambili, Victoria Falls and we were expelled from Zanu-PF together with Colleen Machingura, Gabriel Togarepi and others at the same time when (war vets leader) Cde Chris Mutsvangwa was also fired.
“The reasons were never declared to us officially. Rumour had it that it was because we were seen as people blocking the progress of (Dr Grace Mugabe) in the party, but now the true leadership will return.”