THE two major contestants in national polls to be held in six weeks time seem to have adopted a stance akin to boxers reluctant to come out of the dressing room for a top-shelf
Both Zanu PF and the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) have yet to make their manifestoes public for the electorate to make an informed choice when they cast their votes. Zanu PF will market its wares when it officially launches its campaign this weekend while the MDC has slated the unveiling of its manifesto for next week.
The ruling party has resumed its charm offensive to spit and polish its image six weeks ahead of elections with a number of vote-catching initiatives.
“We cannot disclose our campaign strategy, especially in the wake of the MDC announcing its participation in the election,” chairman of Zanu PF’s election directorate, Elliot Manyika, told his party publication, The Voice, last week.
Manyika said Zanu PF had various strategies that would be announced when his party officially launches its election campaign. The manifesto is expected to dwell on the “success” of the land redistribution programme, a hard-to-achieve economic turnaround programme, and the glorification of past successes in health and education.
Government has already begun dusting down several project blueprints, stalled due to lack of funds because of economic stagnation over the past five years.
A welter of uncompleted multi-billion dollar projects around the country could make it difficult for Zanu PF to explain its latest election promises to voters. The ruling party has spent an inordinate amount of time since the 2000 election attempting to convince its supporters that international sanctions imposed for its failure to uphold human rights were the source of national economic woes.
The giant Tokwe-Mukorsi dam, often touted as a panacea for drought-prone Masvingo province’s perennial water problems, needs an additional 114 million euros (about $890 billion) to complete. Completion of the dam will kick-start the Nuanetsi irrigation estate spanning more than 100 000 hectares. A palm project at Rutenga started in 1982 turned into a dismal failure despite abundant water for irrigation in the nearby Manyuchi dam.
Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono appears to be a willing election agent for the ruling party. Last week the RBZ took over the financing of the Matabeleland Zambezi Water Project as government’s major vote-catching initiative in Matabeleland where a restive electorate has proved reluctant to vote for Zanu PF in the recent past.
Zanu PF national chairman John Nkomo announced in a statement government’s plans to resettle 400 000 people in the next five years despite evidence that the programme is making little headway in satisfying land hunger among those who are genuinely landless. In the manifesto for the 2000 election Zanu PF
said it would resettle 150 000 households.
Both Zanu PF and the MDC have yet to announce their campaign strategy. An MDC weekly presidential message has, however, provided some pointers along what lines the opposition party will campaign.
“Our vision is that of a new Zimbabwe whose focus shall be on food security and jobs. A new approach is urgently needed for the nation to move out of the current humanitarian crisis. Our goal is to transform our political culture, to roll the nation back to the ideals of the liberation struggle, to extend basic freedoms and to put together all aspects of our nation into a single unit,” Morgan Tsvangirai says.
On the other hand, the MDC has not been able to combat the propaganda blitz from the state-controlled media and shake off the often repeated “imperialist puppet” tag which its opponent has seized on at every turn.
“Both Mugabe and Tsvangirai are imperialist puppets,” says Paul Siwela of the opposition Zapu Freedom Party which advocates a federal system of government. “Mugabe is crying for Tony Blair to pay whites for the land taken away from them by the government while Tsvangirai says he would return land to the whites. Neither of them consider compensating the indigenous blacks who were dispossessed without compensation in the first place,” Siwela says.