Zanu PF steps up poll campaigns

ZANU PF is stepping up efforts for massive campaigns ahead of do-or-die elections next year which might mark the end of President Robert Mugabe’s 33 years in power.

Report by Elias Mambo

Informed sources say the party has begun rolling out its election machinery and strategies by buying campaign materials that include vehicles, motor bikes, T-shirts, posters and putting in place other necessary logistics for the make-or-break polls.

Insiders say Zanu PF has a multi-pronged strategy for the elections centred around a carrot-and-stick approach, which includes vote-buying methods such as community share ownership schemes, splashing on community projects using its war chest built through Marange diamond proceeds and using coercive measures, including the deployment of security forces in the countryside.

In terms of logistics, the party has already acquired 550 vehicles at a cost of US$14 million and motor bikes for 68 districts to ensure that its campaign managers and their foot soldiers reach all areas, including remote districts, to mobilise voters. Zanu PF has bought an assortment of single and double cab 4X4 vehicles including Toyota Hilux, Nissan NP300, Ford Ranger and Mazda BT50s.

“The party is stepping up preparations for elections. The idea is to reach every ward the country. As a result of the land reform some areas are not accessible, but with motorbikes we can now reach them.

Three motorbikes and two cars shall be distributed to each district. Our commissars shall be using the motorbikes to mobilise support in areas not accessible by road,” a source said.

Sources said Zanu PF, boosted by favourable opinion polls, wants to launch one of its massive campaigns since Independence in 1980 in a bid to hang onto power.

Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo confirmed the acquisition of the vehicles but declined to disclose the source of funding, only saying his party was extensively preparing for the crucial set for the first half of next year.

“There is nothing unusual about buying cars as we prepare for elections,” said Gumbo. “Any serious party that wants to win elections is bound to get ready, so we are just beefing up our fleet as we prepare for elections.”

However, Gumbo could not confirm the actual number of vehicles being given to districts although he indicated that all members of the party’s provincial executives were allocated vehicles.

Mugabe and his party are still reeling from their defeat by MDC-T and its leader Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai in 2008. Zanu PF was edged by the MDC-T, losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in 28 years, while Mugabe was thrashed by Tsvangirai the first rounding of voting before launching a brutal comeback in a bloody run-off.

Institute for Democratic Alternative for Zimbabwe manager Jabusile Shumba said Zanu PF’s unusual acquisition of vehicles showed the party was heavily investing in the elections, raising fears of a possible bloodbath if it loses.

“The vehicles and motorbikes will be used to maximise violence as there is a sudden resurgence of terror bases that were used prior to the 2008 controversial polls,” Shumba said.

Army commanders and senior Zanu PF officials, including politburo member Patrick Chinamasa and Gumbo, have warned of military intervention of Mugabe and Zanu PF lose.