As the date of the Zimbabwe elections draws nigh, the ruling party, ZANU-PF, has been fighting tooth and nail to lure the youth vote. The incumbent President, Emmerson Mnangagwa, has employed various methods to wow the voters, including attending multiple denominations where scores of Christians worship.
The Zimbabwe ruling party has also adopted inviting celebrities for its local rallies and showcasing them to potential voters. The latest invitee to the ZANU-PF rally who has sparked debate across social media is boxing legend Floyd `Money` Mayweather Jr.
Like his visit to Nigeria, Mayweather’s trip to Zimbabwe was billed as promoting the sport of boxing. But his Zimbabwe trip is not without controversy. The undefeated boxing legend and businessman jetted into Zimbabwe in his private jet and spent three days in Harare.
His schedule included visits to high-density suburbs such as Mabvuku (one of the oldest high-density locations in Harare). Mayweather was invited to Zimbabwe by Scott Sakupwanya, an aspiring member of parliament vying for a seat in Mabvuku.
Who is Scott Sakupwanya?
Sakupwanya gained public attention in 2020 when photos of him surfaced on social media posing with gold bars and millions of dollars in cash. In April, Sakupwanya was named in an Al Jazeera investigative documentary, “The Gold Mafia,” that exposed a gold smuggling and money laundering ring involving top officials. A convicted gold smuggler in the documentary named Sakupwanya as Zimbabwe’s “biggest gold guy,” to which he has not responded.
Sakupwanya is infamous for hosting luxurious parties and flaunting his wealth on camera. Sakupwanya once visited Floyd Mayweather in the United States of America in a one-on-one visit. Sakupwanya told Reuters: “People thought I was lying when I said I would bring Mayweather, but he is here, and this shows that what I will promise in this election will come to pass.”
Mayweather attends a ZANU-PF rally.
As part of his visit to Zimbabwe, dubbed the “African Tour”, Floyd Mayweather attended a ruling party rally. Throngs of rally attendees flocked to the event to glance at the boxing gaffer who showcased his boxing skills. During an interview with State broadcasters, Mayweather mentioned that he was happy to be home, and Africa is his motherland. Hence, he came back home.
The 46-year-old American former boxer thrilled the crowd with a public workout, which included punching and jumping rope. He also watched three matches from Zimbabwe’s budding fighters.
Following Mayweather’s rally attendance, some young people pledged to vote for Mnangagwa, 80, who is seeking a second term in the August 23 poll. The youth vote is expected to be a crucial battlefield for the two main political parties, Mnangagwa’s ZANU PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa.
Mixed reactions concerning the visit.
However, only some people in the country were pleased with the trip.
Zimbabwe’s upcoming election occurs amid a severe economic crisis, and the suggestion that Mayweather may have been paid big money to visit has not been well received.
Zimbabwean journalist Hopewell Chin’ono tweeted: “Mayweather was brought to Zimbabwe by ZANU PF Harare Councillor and prospective MP for Mabvuku, Scott Sakupwanya, who was featured in the Al Jazeera Gold Mafia films.
“This trip which is said to have cost above a million dollars, happens at a time when Zimbabwean hospitals have no required medicines or a single working radiotherapy machine to treat cancer patients.
“Zimbabweans have no clean drinking water in their homes, and many are dying from cholera as a result; school kids have no books in schools, and the country’s road network is potholed.
“Mayweather spent the day in Mabvuku, where the majority have no jobs as Zimbabwe suffers from a massive 95 per cent unemployment rate.
“The country is also suffering from hyperinflation after years of economic mismanagement by Scott Sakupwanya’s party, ZANU PF.”
Mayweather endorses Mnangagwa.
Speaking to journalists after meeting Mnangagwa at the State House, Mayweather said Mnangagwa’s win would be a win for the people of Zimbabwe.
The American former boxer is expected to fly to South Africa on Frida. He returns Sunday to visit Victoria Falls on Zimbabwe’s border with Zambia before returning to the U.S.