HARARE: President Emmerson Mnangagwa was yesterday forced to pull out of a rally with street vendors owing to low attendance.

The rally, which had been advertised in the state-run Herald newspaper and ZBC TV, was due to start at 10AM at the City Sports Centre but only a couple of hundred people had turned up – even with a free concert by the singer, Seh Calaz.

Ahead of Monday’s general elections, optics matter and aides of the Zanu PF leader would not let him address an empty hall. They then drafted in Water Minister Oppah Muchinguri, who claimed Mnangagwa had an engagement elsewhere.

Mnangagwa, meanwhile, had arranged an unplanned visit to Matapi Flats in Mbare where a fire destroyed property earlier this week.

Residents were told of his imminent arrival at the dilapidated flats and came out hoping to hear from the Zanu PF leader, who swept in with a lengthy convoy and a large security detail.

There was no public-address system or a podium for Mnangagwa to address the gathered residents.

After touring some of the scorched flats, Mnangagwa told an old woman – who was injured in the fire – that the government would “build new houses after the election.” zim live