ZANU PF’S 17th national people’s conference kicks off today in Esigodini, Matabeleland South province, with the party seeking to deal with indiscipline and intolerance amid reports that a section of disgruntled officials could protest against certain individuals seen as economic saboteurs.
In an interview yesterday, party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said although law enforcement agents will be in attendance to deal with such issues, they expected delegates to observe discipline.
There are reports that some elements could register their frustrations over the deteriorating economic conditions through a demonstration at the conference.
“It’s the responsibility of the law enforcement agents to deal with such, but I have not heard about any planned demonstration,” Khaya Moyo said.
“We expect delegates to maintain discipline, and if there are people who might try to cause chaos, then the law enforcement agents should take care of that,” he said, adding that it is all systems go for the conference.
“We are set, today [yesterday] is travelling day, and we expect delegates to travel safely. Also, those in charge of their travelling must travel safely and avoid accidents. We expect that by evening [yesterday] all delegates will be here.”
The conference, which began with a politburo and central committee meetings in Harare, is expected to discuss the economy and other related issues.
“When we say Zimbabwe is one for business in peace and unity towards a middle income economy by 2030, obviously we will be concentrating on the economy, and the quicker it picks up, naturally we expect people’s lives to improve,” Khaya Moyo said.
Besides the economy, Khaya Moyo said they would talk about infrastructure development, food security and beneficiation of natural resources.
Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu said they expect delegates to be disciplined and avoid being caught up in alleged plots to demonstrate and cause public humiliation of certain top leaders.
Security remained on high alert, with soldiers and police making patrols kilometres away from the venue.
Villagers expressed mixed feelings about the conference, with others saying they were grateful to Zanu PF leadership for coming to their area because it had witnessed massive infrastructure transformation, while others said their livelihood, mainly gold panning, was being affected by the tight security.
“We are happy that the conference is happening in our area. We are vendors and we expect business to boom. We sell tomatoes and vegetables and people are buying in bulk. And because of that, we are generating profit,” Esnath Mpofu, a vendor at one of the growth points, said.
“We are also happy in that there is development in our area in the form of new roads, tarred roads and improved lighting, especially in Habane. The most important thing is that there is improved security and because of that, the crime rate has dropped and the illegal panners are being kept at bay.
“They usually cause a lot of problems, but they are being kept on check. We feel relieved about that, and we are living in peace.”
On the other hand, male villagers said almost 90% of the people in Esigodini area survive on gold mining activities, hence suspension of their work affects them in a negative way.
“Of course, we are happy that the President is coming to our area and he will see for himself the situation in our area. We need him to support our gold mining activities, but more importantly, and if we have the chance, we would want to share with him our problems.
“As they deliberate, we just don’t expect them to merry, but to come up with resolutions that take the country forward. We are really suffering, and this has forced many people into gold panning. However, that has been affected by the huge deployment of security forces who do not allow such things to take place,” another villager said.