Zanu PF congress preps gather speed

HARARE - The stage is nearly set at the 6th Zanu PF congress’ main venue in Harare days before doors open, though organisers must wait until Thursday to start prepping for the event’s official opening day

Working through Harare’s stifling heat which could make way for a heavy downpour later this week, dozens of workers were yesterday sweeping up construction dust just adjacent to the Rainbow Towers Hotel, crane carrying equipment for the arena renovation were busy, together with concrete-contractor trucks and several moving vehicles, tarring roads, furnishing leaky media tents and individually checking thousands of electrical, mobile phone and Internet hookups in and around the venue, on schedule to meet the December 4 deadline.

From tomorrow when the Zanu PF politburo meets, to Wednesday when the central committee convenes, right up to the first day of congress on Thursday when organisers take possession of the so-called Harare Civic Centre Ground venue just a day before President Robert Mugabe’s remarks, they will dispatch more workers to roll out a highly detailed “fast-track build-out plan.”

“Our delegates from the provinces will come into Harare on Wednesday the 3rd of December 2014 and the congress proper will start the next day on Thursday the 4th of December 2014,” Zanu PF national chairman and acting secretary for information and publicity, Simon Khaya Moyo said.

“Tuesday, December 2, the politburo will meet while on Wednesday, December 3, the central committee will meet, with delegates arriving on the same day. Thursday, December  4, is Congress Day 1; Friday, December 5, Congress Day 2, Saturday, December 6,  Congress Day 3 - marking the end of the congress. Sunday, December 7, is departure day for delegates.

“Most notably, the congress will chart a new economic order in line with our ZimAsset programme.

“This is amply demonstrated by the theme chosen for this congress that reads: ‘Accelerated Implementation of ZimAsset’. The congress will also usher in a new leadership that will carry the party forward in the next five years.”

Organisers say there is a detailed plan for where every piece of cable gets laid and where every piece of furniture goes.

The police would descend on the grounds on Wednesday to conduct a sweep of the venue and after that, the arena would be locked down until the doors are opened for the congress.

Organisers said police and the party’s internal security personnel would man the entry points, with the former doing the searches.

The stage area was draped with the national colours and from the scheme of the décor, even the colour blind could tell that the ruling Zanu PF would be staging its congress, convened once every five years.

The podium, from where the 90-year-old president is expected to deliver one of the most-eagerly anticipated swan songs of his political career, was already in place, while other sections were still being constructed.

The grounds around the centre — now packed with snow white tents, trailers and moving vans — gave away few clues as to the activity inside.

A handful of staffers zipped through chain-link-guarded parking lots. An OB (outside broadcasting) ZBC news van was already stationed at the venue, with other companies taking advantage of the sunshine to hang their banners and set up other outside displays around the centre.

Guards posted at street corners warned off interlopers from the construction zone, said to have gobbled over $1 million.

Inside, the arena will remain off limits until Thursday’s opening.

But the stage is up, the props hung, cable laid and the lights rigged, according to organisers. The last week before the congress will be for checking systems, removing construction equipment and sprucing up. Crews have been working round-the-clock to stay on schedule.

When the Daily News crew zoomed past the venue on Saturday and yesterday, we witnessed scaffolding, cranes and scissor lifts heavy at work inside the venue and quite  a significant amount of dust.

This week will also see ruling party placards hung for the benefit of delegates from across the country and the addition of a computer system.

There are, however, fears that looming heavy rains may drench tents but outside the venue, some technical infrastructure work has been completed.

Crews work tirelessly so Mugabe’s big moment will be free of gaffes.

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