REPORTS that the MDC Alliance paid youths to demonstrate against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission last Wednesday in Harare did not come as a surprise.
We say so because there were reports earlier that the Alliance had been busy transporting people from remote areas to attend rallies addressed by its leader Mr Nelson Chamisa in various parts of the country. When Mr Chamisa came to Bulawayo, there were scores of buses hired from Harare and Chitungwiza to bus in people to the rally, and some were involved in an accident as they travelled back to Masvingo from the Bulawayo rally.
It appears the modus operandi has been to use money to attract people to their gatherings so as to create an artificial image of a presidential candidate with a huge support base. And to support this view, some of the rowdy youths who had not received full payment for taking part in the demonstration were exclusively captured by our Harare Bureau fuming at the party leadership.
They blamed MDC-T deputy treasurer Mr Charlton Hwende for not ensuring that they were fully paid and threatened not to vote for the MDC Alliance if they were not given the balance. The youths claimed they were promised $30 each but were only given $10. The visibly drunk youths donning party regalia were livid that their leaders were, after the demonstration, evasive on payment. They accused Mr Hwende of being selective on paying them.
“Other youths from Kuwadzana, Budiriro and Mufakose have already been paid. We are from Chitungwiza North and we have not been paid. Hwende should pay us,” said one youth.
Another one complained that he had left his workplace upon being enticed that they would get $30 but the party leadership was now playing hide and seek.
“We will not vote for the MDC Alliance if we are not paid. They invited us to this demo. We have discharged our obligation and now they are no longer willing to pay us,” screamed another youth.
Soon after the demonstration some youths thronged supermarkets in the Central Business District blowing vuvuzelas right in the shops. They were seen buying beer that included opaque and spirits while shouting obscenities at everyone. Nonetheless, Mr Hwende dismissed the claims by the disgruntled youths.
Despite his denial, it is evident that the MDC Alliance is clutching on straws, and the demonstration was itself another desperate grand staging occasion ahead of the watershed elections at the end of the month.
On the other hand, President Mnangagwa continues to attract bumper crowds where ever he goes, and no one has claimed to be have been coerced to attend. Instead, he has been preaching peace and tolerance. In Matabeleland North on Friday, President Mnangagwa called on party cadres not to concern themselves with minor parties.
“Zanu-PF is the only party that knows the history of the suffering of the masses leading to the liberation of the country and has a clear vision on how to go forward.
“It’s not a fly by night party but rich in history, a people’s party that listens to the people,” he said.