ZANU PF has described its crushing electoral victory in the just-ended general elections as a product of meticulous planning and dismissed allegations by the two MDC parties and some local and international critics that massive rigging and intimidation influenced the outcome.
Herbert Moyo/Elias Mambo
Various party officials who spoke to this paper said the party had hit the ground running after the embarrassment of the parliamentary defeat in the March 2008 elections and they reaped the rewards with the stunning electoral victory which included clean sweeps in MDC-T strongholds like Masvingo and Matabeleland South.
Zanu PF Masvingo provincial chairperson Lovemore Matuke told the Zimbabwe Independent that his party re-organised their structures, started empowerment schemes and developed infrastructure such as roads and schools while the MDCs took the people’s support for granted.
“We had to put our structures in order because we were aware of the 2008 disaster. We approached this election with great care and we made sure we were in touch with the grassroots,” Matuke said.
“Here (in Masvingo) it was obvious the MDC-T was going to lose because of their handling of the urban councils. Masvingo Town Council lost much of its equipment and vehicles due to poor financial management by the MDCs,” he said.
Dick Mafios, another Zanu PF chairperson for Mashonaland Central, said his party had done a lot of work which began soon after the 2008 elections.
“We employed a ward-based approach where we had to target 50 people per ward, a move that made the party romp to victory with huge margins in the just-ended elections,” Mafios said.
The Zanu PF campaign was also aided by the military and war veterans. Jabulani Sibanda, the war veterans leader said it took his association four years to campaign around the country’s 10 provinces.
“We have been on the ground for the past four years in what we termed Operation Kubudirana Pachena, where we have been meeting all church pastors, traditional chiefs and the majority of Zimbabweans, alerting them on the importance of the just-ended elections,” Sibanda said.
President-elect Robert Mugabe and his Zanu PF party claimed a landslide victory in which Mugabe had 61% as well as more than two-thirds majority in parliament while Tsvangirai and his party claimed the elections were rigged.
Meanwhile, some critics have also conceded that despite serious irregularities surrounding the elections, including Zanu PF’s refusal to implement electoral, media and security sector reforms as agreed to in the Sadc-brokered Global Political Agreement, Zanu PF’s vigorous campaigns centering on indigenisation and empowerment carried the day for the party.
Brian Raftopoulos, a senior research mentor at the University of the Western Cape, said despite losing in 2008, Mugabe and Zanu PF still retained “a substantial social base” which the party effectively built upon to win the elections.
He said the memory of the 2008 violence along with land redistribution “radically changed the social and political relations”.
“When these factors are combined with the greater political cohesion of Mugabe’s party since the divisions that marked its campaign in 2008 — and the resonance of its messaging around empowerment and indigenisation particularly among the youth, it is apparent that there are multiple reasons for the political resurgence of Mugabe and his party,” Raftopoulos said.