Zanu PF goes for broke in elections

ZANU PF is going for broke in the next high-stakes elections and will throw everything at its disposal — including deployment of troops  particularly in Manicaland and intimidation — to win the polls, party officials attending the annual conference in Gweru said yesterday.

Report by Owen Gagare

The campaign will focus on the party’s rural strongholds, although the swing Manicaland and Masvingo provinces would be a priority.

Zanu PF is confident of retaining the three Mashonaland provinces and Midlands to seal victory, although Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his MDC-T party, which won the last parliamentary elections, stand in their way.

A senior party official said yesterday the spectre of conflict in Mozambique after Renamo leader Afonso Dhlakama’s threats of another war has presented Zanu PF with a pretext to deploy more security forces in Manicaland.

Troops have already been deployed ostensibly to defend the country’s eastern border and protect villagers as well as infrastructure, although they would also campaign for Zanu PF. The officials say some troops would play a more political role in the run-up to the elections.

“The justification of deployment of troops will be the explosive security situation in Mozambique,” said the official. “Also bear in mind that Zimbabwe intervened in the last civil war because of the historical ties between the countries; so deployment is totally justifiable.”

Apart from military manoeuvres, Zanu PF, which recently sent its provincial leaders to China for training, is working on new strategies of mobilising voters, including a mass voters’ registration exercise. Sources say the party is working hand in glove with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to register voters in areas it holds sway. Its women’s league boss Oppah Muchinguri this week said they had registered a million voters, raising fears the party, now engaged in open vote-buying, was laying the ground for ballot-rigging.

President Robert Mugabe’s controversial US$20 million inputs scheme, would be key in rural areas. Party insiders say only small quantities of seeds and fertiliser would be distributed through the Grain Marketing Board, largely because of inadequate funding from Treasury, to create space and justify the president’s inputs intervention.

The indigenisation policy would be the key campaign theme. Zanu PF has also bought new vehicles for US$14 million and other materials for campaigns. The party’s mobilisation committee is preparing for vigorous campaigns.

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