American boxing sensation Floyd Mayweather has been sucked into Zimbabwe's partisan politics

HARARE – Former world boxing champion Floyd Mayweather attended a campaign event of the ruling Zanu PF in Zimbabwe on Thursday, stirring controversy and claims that he was handsomely paid by millionaire Scott Sakupwanya.

While the ruling party said the boxing legend was invited to boost tourism in the country, the opposition claimed his invitation was a stunt by the ruling party to woo youth voters ahead of a general election next month.

Mayweather was welcomed with song and dance by Zanu PF party supporters in Mabvuku, one of Zimbabwe’s oldest townships, on the outskirts of the capital Harare.

One of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s closest allies, gold magnate Scott Sakupwanya, who is looking to reclaim a parliamentary seat from the opposition, said he invited Mayweather.

“People thought I was lying when I said I would bring Mayweather, but he is here. This shows that what I will promise in this election will come to pass,” Sakupwanya told Reuters at the rally.

But one Zimbabwean based in South Africa claimed Sakupwanya must have paid Mayweather at least $500,000 to bring him to Zimbabwe.

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 boxers.

Some young people attending the rally pledged to vote for Mnangagwa, 80, who is seeking a second term in the August 23 poll.

“I am happy to see Mayweather here in Zimbabwe, it is his first time to come here. I am registered to vote, and I am going to vote for President Emmerson Mnangagwa,” 34-year-old White Marurame told Reuters.

The youth vote is expected to be a crucial battlefield for the two main political parties, Zanu PF and the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

The election takes place amid a raging economic crisis, with high inflation and a currency that plunged more than 50% last month against the US dollar. — ZimLive

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