Bindura — The small mining town of Bindura was an unusual hive of activity last Saturday with President Robert Mugabe presiding over a graduation ceremony at a local university.
But the key event was the launch of the Mashonaland Central Community Share Ownership Scheme, which ordinarily should have been a national event, but was instead turned into a Zanu PF campaign rally.
Visibly drunken youths — seemingly a key ingredient at political rallies these days — sang welcoming their commander, as Mugabe’s motorcade snaked its way to the Trojan Stadium, the venue of the launch.
Not to be outdone, members of the women’s league gyrated their bosoms at the same time.
Traditional chiefs, whom Zanu PF has literally turned into party apparatchiks, were also present in their conspicuous red gowns and colonial white hats.
But Mugabe was the star of the show.
Negating old age and weariness, he concluded a very hectic weekend programme that saw him preside over graduation ceremonies at the National University of Science and Technology in Bulawayo and Bindura University of Science Education in less than 24 hours.
While Mugabe and Zanu PF are trying to sell the indigenisation programme as a national plan, the launch of the community share ownership scheme last week will not earn them any new friends, as it was clearly a party rather than national project.
The government has initiated an indigenisation programme that forces foreign-owned companies to sell at least 51% of their shares, but like the land reform programme before it, sceptics fear that this is nothing more than a Zanu PF vote-buying exercise.
Led by Zanu PF Mashonaland Central chairman, Dick Mafios, all the speakers chanted Zanu PF slogans, with the audience singing back in unison.
But far from his vociferous speeches, Mugabe has somewhat toned down his rhetoric, urging peace, while reserving his venom for far away enemies like British Premier David Cameron and former French leader, Nicholas Sarkozy.
“They tell lies, they kill in order to get resources, (Libyan leader Muammar) Gaddafi was killed for his oil,” he thundered. “Us, blacks were not born to tell lies,” he said.