IN an unprecedented move to draw up strategies ahead of defining elections expected next year, Zanu PF has dispatched its provincial chairpersons to China where they would be coached by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) on political tactics to keep the former liberation movement in power.
Report by Brian Chitemba
Political analysts said the trip by Zanu PF chairpersons suggested the party was keen on adopting elements of the one-party state approach prevailing in China where refined methods of suppression of freedom of expression and any form of dissent are used.
The 10 chairpersons led by Matabeleland North governor Sithokozile Mathuthu left the country on Wednesday for what the party said was a familiarisation tour, but senior Zanu PF officials revealed that the two-week visit would see the chairpersons going through rigorous election strategy training by the CCP.
Political commentator Kucaca Phulu said the move by Zanu PF was analogous to the 1980s’ dispatching of the Fifth Brigade for training in North Korea.
“We cannot rule out that they have the ability to impart and inspire these chairpersons to adopt violence and coercion in order to win elections,” he said. “This may be indicative of preparations for a campaign of terror against the people of Zimbabwe using a new system.”
Zanu PF national chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo could not be reached for comment.
But sources told the Zimbabwe Independent that after the China visit, the chairpersons would hold support mobilisation rallies in their respective provinces.
“It has never happened that provincial chairpersons are sent abroad for election strategy training,” said a party official. “It shows Zanu PF is serious about elections and the party will depend on notes from the Chinese in the next election.”
Political analyst Nyamutatanga Makombe said the visit by the chairpersons was indicative of Zanu PF’s change of strategy from the lackadaisical approach which cost the party dearly when it lost its parliamentary majority in the 2008 polls.
“Zanu PF has been advised by China dating back to the pre-Independence era and it’s not surprising that given that the party is in an election mood, they are plotting a different campaign approach,” Makombe said.
President Robert Mugabe has been pushing for early elections although the move flopped due to the delayed constitution-making process, among other outstanding democratic and electoral reforms.
The Zanu PF chairpersons’ trip to China follows a visit by a CCP delegation in June which met politburo, central committee and district coordinating committee members.
CCP advised Zanu PF to address relevant issues facing the electorate, saying the party would only be electable if its policies solved the problems dogging the masses.