Divided Zanu PF courts new voters

ZANU PF has come up with strategies targeting businesspeople, churches, the youth, women and urban dwellers as it intensifies its campaign to win polls anticipated for next year, according to the party’s central committee report.

While its partners in the inclusive government, the two MDC formations, continue to bicker about the timing of the elections and whether they should be harmonised or just presidential, Zanu PF is already in election campaign mode.

According to the central committee report tabled at the party’s national conference in Mutare a fortnight ago, Zanu PF is clear on what strategies it is going to employ to revamp its dwindling support base.  It is even casting its net at Zimbabweans in the diaspora.

 

This confirmed reports by the Zimbabwe Independent that Zanu PF has employed various strategies to revamp its structures that have been ravaged by rampant factionalism, and that it was on an intensive mobilisation drive.

To attract businesspeople’s participation in the party, Zanu PF is planning to create a new department of business development and liaison.

The department will ensure that funds are made available for party business activities and liaise and coordinate with the business community at branch, district, province and national levels.

Joint ventures would be established and maintained as well as close relations with businesses within and outside Zimbabwe.

The objectives of the department will include ensuring that opportunities for the party membership are identified and promoted, all forms of business are adequately represented at all levels of the party, local members participate in the indigenisation process and help them to have a stake in local and international-linked business.

“The scope of the department is to ensure that business cascades to all levels of the party,” reads the report. “This department will mobilise membership through hard economics as a tool for poverty reduction. Zanu PF will become business-embracing,” reads the report.

Targeting the youths, Zanu PF has set up a youth development fund through the Ministry  of Indigenisation to assist youths with viable project proposals. The fund is managed and disbursed through various commercial banks.

“In view of the fact that the youths constitute the majority of voters, provincial structures emphasised that Zanu PF should target the youth through relevant messages and programmes to win them over to support the party,” the report says.

The Zanu PF department of indigenisation and economic empowerment is working with the national commissariat through the Ministry of Information to organise youth and women’s groups to produce music. It features the “Born-frees” of the urban grooves genre with party messages.

“The music is having extensive airtime on both radio and television. More of such recordings are planned. Since March 2010 the department produced a message or line of the month to give the party focus and to direct members’ energies towards a particular goal which was top priority for the party for the period,” the report says.

Zanu PF, which already has structures in South Africa, is forming structures in Britain and the commissariat department wants the party to support membership building in such countries.

The party has embarked on church-initiated programmes to cement relations between the party and the people. It has targeted Johanne Marange Apostolic Sect, Zimbabwe Muslim Women’s celebrations, Zaoga and various other churches.

To ensure that it maintains its support base among the farming community, Zanu PF has suggested that inputs be subsidised to ensure food security.
Various projects have been lined up for women, which include poultry, making bread and candles, farming and commodity trading. It has also provided low interest finance and start-up capital.

To catch them young the commissariat has proposed the setting up of a party school, which would be used to build leadership and consciousness. It also wants the party’s ideology to be integrated into the formal school syllabi.

The commissariat department headed by Webster Shamu acknowledged that Zanu PF’s party structures had collapsed and were in a state of chaos, making it difficult for the party to win the coming polls.

Driving its mobilisation strategy is the commissariat’s new director Air Vice  Marshal Henry Muchena and his deputy former Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) director-internal, Sydney Nyanhongo.

“Zanu PF finds itself in a paradoxical situation where it claimed to have a staggering membership, yet facing exponentially declining subscriptions,” the report from the commissariat says. “It claimed a healthy membership yet faced declining votes.”

In the report, Zanu PF said the fact that people had membership cards did not necessarily mean that they were genuine party supporters.

This tallies with reports that people have in the past been intimidated into buying membership cards, while others have bought them to protect themselves against harassment, violence and intimidation.

The commissariat warned “those guilty of inflating membership figures will literally pay for such inflations”.

In addition to the misguided view that it had a staggering membership, the commissariat department said political factions within the party were the main reason behind Zanu PF’s poor performance in the 2008 elections.

“Bickering amongst members weakened the party structures at all levels, creating fertile ground for the flouting of rules, imposition of candidates and non-cooperation with those in authority and general chaos and indiscipline,” reads the report. “Indeed, reports of induced apathy or voting for opposition candidates reached the party.”

There are two main factions in Zanu PF, one led by Defence Minister Emmerson Mnangagwa and the other by retired army General Solomon Mujuru who have denied leading the two factions, describing them as a media creation.

 

Faith Zaba

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