The Moto Moto area in Sakubva, Mutare, which is considered a den for opportunistic hucksters selling all manner of sundry items, from cell phones, cash — yes, cash — and motor spares, did not close for business yesterday.
There were no obvious signs that the Head of State and Government, President Mnangagwa, was set to visit the town, save for some tell-tale posters that were generously plastered around Sakubva Stadium, the venue of yesterday’s Zanu-PF rally.
Well, it never used to happen.
ln years gone by, overzealous youth, often with a penchant to name-drop former President Mr Robert Mugabe’s name, would have overran the market, frogmarching everyone to the venue.
But yesterday, people were given carte blanche to do as they please, including exercising their right not to turn up for the rally.
However, turn up they did.
Sakubva Stadium was brimful with Zanu-PF party members clad in resplendent party-themed regalia.
The revolutionary party estimated the attendance at more than 30 000.
There is a new Sheriff in town and a refreshing smell of freedom in the air.
The President was pleasantly surprised at the huge turn-out at such short notice.
“Ndinokutendai zvikuru nekuungana kwamaita, haisi rally yatanga takarangana, ndatoshamiswa munouya makawanda kudai in one minute yamanzwa.
The rally was hastily put together to take advantage of President Mnangagwa’s official assignment to preside over the renaming of 3 Infrantry Brigade Barracks to Hebert Chitepo Barracks.
A youthful, fledgling businessman, Mr Stanley Sipeya, said the visit by President Mnangagwa to Mutare showed maturity on the part of Zanu-PF.
“I think this was refreshing. Some of us who are into business were expecting to get directives to close shop and attend the rally, but this was not the case.
“We went about our business as usual and those who attended the rally went to Sakubva Stadium voluntarily. To me, it is a show of maturity on the part of Zanu-PF,” he said.
Sakubva resident, Mr Gift Mugeri, commended President Mnangagwa for presiding over such a refreshing system that guarantees people’s freedoms.
“This is something that every progressive citizen wants. I have lived in Sakubva for a long time and we used to be force-marched into the stadium for such rallies,” he said.
Sakubva Stadium might actually be a haunting venue for dancerhall artist, Soul Jah Love.
When Mr Mugabe last visited the venue for a Youth Interface Rally last year, the muso was embarrassingly dressed down by a haughty youth league executive, Innocent Hamandishe, who has since been expelled from the party.
All this has now changed and Mr Paul Sigauke, a local entrepreneur, has been enchanted.
“Sakubva Vegetables Market would be closed each time for the Mutare rallies. This was not the case this time around. It shows that the new dispensation is business-orientated,” he said.
Zanu-PF Manicaland provincial chairperson Cde Mike Madiro told President Mnangagwa that “this crowd is made up of supporters from Mutare and surrounding areas such as Mutare West, South and North”.
And as promised by the party recently, the party’s regalia was abundant and supporters had to forego the routine pushing and shoving as its distribution was well choreographed.
Many feel that this might really be the dawn of a new era.
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