Chombo on ‘vote-buying spree’

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AS elections loom in the second half of this year, Zanu PF has allegedly embarked on a vote-buying spree in a bid to secure victory by allocating 1000 stands in Mutare to party supporters and other prospective voters.

Report by Wongai Zhangazha

Local Government minister Ignatius Chombo is alleged to have ordered the Mutare municipality to give land to a housing co-operative called Mushamukadzi, which has strong Zanu PF links.

In the 2008 polls the party fared badly in Manicaland in which Mutare lies, winning only six of the 26 seats.

Zanu PF is leaving no stone unturned as it battles to regain political dominance and lost ground after four years of a forced partnership with its MDC rivals in a shaky coalition government, following inconclusive elections in 2008.

Sources said Chombo directed acting Mutare mayor George Jerison to allocate stands to the co-operative whose patron is said to be Zanu PF Women’s League boss Oppah Muchinguri.

Jerison confirmed Chombo directed his council to allocate 1 000 stands valued at between US$1,5 million and US$2 million, each measuring 150 square meters.

“We were given a directive last year by Chombo to allocate 1 000 stands at Dimboki North which constitutes both state and council land to the co-operative,” said Jerison. “Currently the place is occupied by 3 Brigade, which uses it as a shooting range. The stands will be allocated once the army is done with its shooting practice.

We were told that the stands were meant for women empowerment and I only know of a Mai Zindi as the one in charge; I don’t know about Muchinguri,” Jerison said.

The land allocation directive follows a strategic mobilisation meeting at the end of last year at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare chaired by the party’s secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa.

The meeting, which was also attended by commissar Webster Shamu, discussed ways of seizing control of seats lost to the MDC-T through a series of tactics, most of which appear to be brazen vote-buying.

Among the proposed tactics was the mobilisation of housing co-operatives, community-based organisations and burial societies as well as the setting up of community banks to secure votes. This is in addition to trying to secure the support of indigenous churches, particularly the Vapostori sect, through promises of community development projects and using diamond proceeds to sponsor a robust electoral campaign.

Housing minister Giles Mutsekwa said he was aware of the housing scheme and has ordered his officials in Mutare to investigate the issue.

“I’m actually in the process of finding out how that co-operative is operating,” said Mutsekwa. “I know that there is this project being run under Muchinguri. Those are dubious projects and I want to know their origins,” he said.

However, Muchinguri said on Wednesday she was not aware of the housing project.

Chombo was not available for comment.

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