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Zanu PF plotting to manipulate swing constituencies

THE failure by the MDC formations to form a broader alliance ahead of the imminent crucial general elections will bolster Zanu PF’s chances of wresting 20 swing parliamentary seats and retaining the presidency through a myriad of sophisticated manipulation tactics, according to research fellow at Oxford University Philan Zamchiya.

Report by Paidamoyo Muzulu

Zamchiya lists the 20 swing parliamentary seats as those won by margins of less than 5%. These are in Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Midlands.

In a research paper entitled “Pre-Election Detectors: Zanu PF’s attempt to reclaim hegemony” launched in Harare on Wednesday, Zamchiya says Zanu PF will go all out to manipulate the results without resorting to physical violence as in the past.

Zamchiya states Zanu PF’s strategy is to get the maximum number of votes in its strongholds since MDC-controlled areas have more people eligible to vote but are not exercising their right.

Based on the sham June 2008 presidential election run-off, which MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai pulled out of citing state-sponsored violence against his supporters, Zamchiya lists Zanu PF strongholds as Mashonaland West, Mashonaland Central, Mashonaland East and Midlands.

“Zanu PF envisages that its presidential campaign will work because the opposition will be fragmented due to failure to provide a united front among the opposition leaders,” said Zamchiya.

“Capitalising on the divisions, the untold story is Mugabe actually won Matabeleland South in a relatively free and fair March 29 poll with 38% of the total vote whereas (Simba) Makoni got 30% and Prime Minister Tsvangirai had 29%,” Zamchiya said.

The paper further says Mugabe and Zanu PF are likely to use subtle methods of manipulating the vote without antagonising the regional and international community such as using postal votes to win swing constituencies, opposition candidate manipulation, bussing in of voters in swing constituencies and creating electoral buffer zones in their strongholds.

Zamchiya said it was most likely postal votes by members of the uniformed forces and civil servants abroad would be deposited to swing constituencies where the MDC could win by narrow margins.

“In (the) June 27 2008 (presidential) election (run-off) the number of postal votes increased from 8 000 to 64 000 applications. If the 64 000 ballot papers were to be evenly distributed in swing constituencies then assuming that the MDC does not increase its March 29 2008 vote, Zanu PF will gain all the seats in the swing zone.”

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