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Mugabe and wife snub solidarity march

by Staff Reporter
31 Aug 2017 at 23:39hrs | Views
HARARE - President Robert Mugabe and his wife Grace stayed away from a solidarity march with the embattled first lady organised by a grouping of war veterans and Zanu PF supporters yesterday.

Hundreds of placard-wielding Zanu PF supporters marched through the streets of Harare to the ruling party's national headquarters.

Mugabe and his wife were in no-show  even after one of the main organisers of the event, Shadreck Mashayamombe, who is the political commissar for Harare province, had earlier indicated to the Daily News that the first couple was expected at the meeting.

"We are expecting them, we don't know what time they are arriving, but we are expecting them," he told the Daily News shortly before the meeting.

The march came on the back of an international onslaught mounted against Grace after she assaulted a 20-year-old South African model, Gabriella Engels, whom she found in the company of her sons at a top Johannesburg hotel.

Although party supporters thronged the Zanu PF offices wielding placards denouncing Engels and extolling Grace, official proceedings completely ignored the issue.

It was not clear why the Mugabes snubbed the event. But Mugabe addressed an educational conference which took place at the Rainbow Towers Hotel, a stone's throw from the party headquarters, driving past the vast crowd on his way home from the event.

Organisers of the event, Mandi Chimene and George Mlala - leaders of a splinter war veterans group - had to call in Zanu PF secretary for administration, Ignatius Chombo, to stand in for the first family.

Chombo, who walked in when proceedings were already in full swing, said: "I saw the invitation from ... Mlala yesterday (Tuesday) evening and then ... Chimene called me later to advise me that she would give me a full briefing before the march started.

"That however, did not happen because I had to attend the education conference. She also called me a few minutes ago saying the meeting was about to start and they wanted me to take the message to the president.

"As the secretary of the party, I am just here to take the message as it is. I have heard all the issues raised here and I will pass them on to the president and the first lady," said Chombo.

Chimene had earlier complained about war veterans who swear allegiance to the Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association led by former Cabinet minister, Chris Mutsvangwa, who was expelled from the party along with his entire executive for criticising Mugabe and Grace.

Chimene also taunted Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa over claims by members of his camp that he was poisoned during a Zanu PF youth interface rally in Gwanda by his colleagues three weeks ago.

"You eat raw guavas and go on to claim you have been bewitched and that is why I am having a running tummy, be steady," Chimene said.

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