A very poor turnout for a Zanu-PF march in Harare raises questions about how popular the party of Emmerson Mnangagwa really is, and what this could mean for crucial elections on 30 July 2018.

Hours after a successful march by the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) Alliance to protest against the Zimbabwe government’s snail’s pace in the implementation of electoral reforms ahead of the make-or-break harmonised elections slated for 30 July, an attempt by the ruling Zanu-PF to stage a counter march backfired spectacularly after a handful of supporters turned up at Freedom Square in Harare on Wednesday.

On Wednesday, scores of Zanu-PF supporters milled around Freedom Square, where the march was supposed to have started, almost three hours after the scheduled start of the march, pondering their next move as it became apparent it was not going to succeed.

Observers said the poor turnout for the Zanu-PF march had also proved the long-held view that Zanu-PF previously forced people to its events.

The few supporters who had gathered to partake in the march appeared not to be aware of the reason for the planned march.

Many said they were not even sure what they were supposed to do, save to say they had been asked to come to show support for President Mnangagwa.

“I am not sure what is going to happen now because we were supposed to have started marching a long time ago, but from the turnout here I don’t think we will be marching any more. I hear they now want it to be a rally which will be addressed by some senior party members,” said Felix Chitongo from Harare.

That was in sharp contrast to the responses by the people who attended the MDC Alliance march on Tuesday, who were clear on their reasons for taking to the streets; that they wanted the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to implement electoral reforms before the elections.

It was clear from the determination and zeal exhibited by the alliance demonstrators that they had real issues they wanted addressed by the regime, hence the success of their demonstration, arguably the biggest by the opposition, or any other group so far in 2018.

That the failed demonstration came after the Nelson Chamisa-led alliance had almost brought the city of Harare to a standstill on the previous day dealt a huge blow to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, as it seemed to expose his unpopularity.DM