Haru Mutasa is a South Africa-based correspondent for Al Jazeera English.
Zanu PF party gatherings are usually the same.
Thousands of supporters sing and dance for hours as they wait for President Robert Mugabe to give his speech. President Robert Mugabe, who has been in power for 32 years, has a routine.
Having reported on many of his speeches for nearly 10 years I predict what the president will talk about at this year’s ZANU PF conference in Gweru … land reform, sanctions, colonialism etc. … and he did so, almost in that order.
I have even learned when to doze off and wake up again during the speeches, which can run as long as 90 minutes.
But Mugabe caught everyone off guard this time when he admitted his pride and joy, the controversial indigenisation law, has glitches.
Two years after a controversial law was passed that required all foreign-owned businesses to sell 51 percent of their shares to black Zimbabweans, Mugabe says some of his party’s ministers have been soliciting bribes from would-be investors.
He even says some ask for as much as five million dollars – money that allegedly goes into their pockets.
I am sure his critics are smiling. They have always said the law was a way for his cronies to line their pockets and steal money.
Then the president attacks the police force – accusing them of taking bribes and threatens to deal with anyone caught breaking the law.
The room of about 5000 supporters cheer him on.
Vying for support
Wow – the Mugabe most Zimbabweans know doesn’t admit failure often, so why do it now?
The simple answer could be elections. There is a strong possibility they could be held in 2013.
Analysts say it’s Mugabe’s way of trying to get support and votes.
But what the average Zimbabwean wants to know is what their leader plans to do about corruption? Will anyone be arrested? What about members of his own family who are accused of corruption – will they also be probed?
Given the country’s track record when it comes to dealing with issues of corruption – I think there could be a few scape goats but nothing to write home about.
Before every election big promises are made by all politicians from different parties. The poor majority not at this conference who are struggling to make ends meet feel words rarely translate into action.
Gweru is a Zanu PF stronghold – but not everyone here likes or supports ZANU PF or Mugabe.
I plan to spend a few hours outside the conference – hear what the voiceless have to say about the president’s plan to win their hearts.