Chiredzi — THERE was no fried chicken and spicy chips for thousands of people who turned up for the Tshovani anti -sanctions rally for Zimbabwe president.
Unlike in Harare where a related event turned into a "Chicken Inn feast", there were desperate scenes in Lowveld sugar plantation town of Chiredzi as hungry people scrounged for cheap popcorn, dubbed "maZupco" to fill their empty stomachs.
These people had been ferried from their homes early in the morning by Zmbabwe United Passenger Company (Zupco) and school buses without a chance to prepare their meals.
And they waited for hours for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to arrive without any provision of food for them.
This was in direct contrast with the hospitality shown to the paltry crowd that turned at the National Sports Stadium in the capital Harare that was treated to a sumptuous lunch comprising of "two piecer" chicken served with bottled water.
Social media was awash with pictures of people displaying their haul of the much liked fast food. Some youths had as many as 15 boxes of the delicacy, that was reportedly dumped at many places after a poor turnout.
But this government largesse was non existent at the dusty Tshovani stadium in Chiredzi, some 600km southeast of Harare where cash-short villagers endured empty stomachs as they listened to President Mnangagwa.
Some of the villagers who spoke to the CAJ News Africa said they were disappointed by the way they were exposed to the Lowveld heat of 42 Celsius on empty stomachs for long hours.
He (Mnangagwa) only arrived the Lowveld Stadium last weekend at 1300hrs, having first commissioned the Kilimanjaro project in Hippo Valley Estate which is aimed at reviving sugarcane production.
"Yes we have sanctions imposed on us and we can keep on appealing that they be removed but we need to look at what God gave us as a country and utilise it for productivity," said Mnangagwa.
"We have fertile land for agriculture and we are bound to utilise that land.
"Yes we can be hit by drought for three years, then the following year we can have good rainfall.
"There are plans that if there is drought, we can be productive through the utilisation of the dams and irrigation schemes," he said.
But his message did not strike a cord with hungry youths.
"We have been here since morning and we have not eaten anything. If only they had not brought us here," said a young man from Zaka who preferred anonymity for fear of victimisation.
He was among the hundreds who were ferried by government buses called ZUPCO from Jerera, some 100km.
Many other people were brought into the stadium by school buses.
The rally was graced by Minister of Land and Agriculture Perrence Shiri, Minister for Masvingo Provincial Affairs Ezra Chadzamira, Minister for Transport Joel Biggie Matiza.
Entertainment of the day came from Zion Christian Church (ZCC) Mutendi brass band.
Masvingo resident Minister Ezra Chadzamira could not be reached for comment. '