ZANU PF has embarked on a massive campaign — involving coercion, intimidation and vote buying — to influence the results of the 2018 general elections under the guise of a nationwide membership verification exercise.
By Elias Mambo/Hazel Ndebele
The carrot-and-stick approach has seen Zanu PF teams embarking on door-to-door campaigns in the party’s strongholds in rural and farming areas, recording the identification particulars and other biometric details of adults in the areas.
The teams are taking passport size pictures as well as the fingerprints of party supporters and those coerced into joining the party.
“After registering, the members are given an electronic card as a membership card which can be scanned to reflect the complete bio-data of the owner. The teams are also working with village heads to form structures from cell level,” an official said.
Zanu PF political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere confirmed Zanu PF was on a recruitment drive, which also involves the capturing of biographical data. He, however, denied Zanu PF teams were intimidating people.
“We rolled out our membership drive in 2014 and we are doing digital data capturing. No one is intimidating people as you are saying. As Zanu PF we want our members to have identification cards and we have put in place mechanisms which help them get those IDs,” he said.
The teams are also flushing out those without identification particulars, issuing them ultimatums to get the ID particulars to enable them to register for voting.
In some instances, Zanu PF officials are assisting villagers to get the identification documents which will enable them to register.
“In farming areas, the teams are reminding people who were allocated land during the land reform programme that Zanu PF did them a favour. They are also telling land owners that they have a responsibility to ensure that everyone on their farms, be it relatives or workers, should vote for Zanu PF,” an official said.
“Those found on farms without identification particulars are being given ultimatums to get particulars or risk being kicked out of farming areas. This has happened in several areas such as Chegutu, Selous and Beatrice among other areas.”
A party official told the Zimbabwe Independent that through this exercise Zanu PF was hoping to register at least three million voters which “will guarantee a landslide victory” in next year’s polls.
The official said the party was alive to the likelihood of facing a united opposition, hence the need for a massive recruitment and intimidation drive among other dirty tactics.
“If Zanu PF can pool three million members in its database then the election is already won. This is what will happen. It does not matter whether there is an opposition coalition or not,” an official said.
In the 2013 elections, Zimbabwe had 6,5 million registered voters, but only about 50% of them voted.
In that poll, only 3 480 047 registered voters cast their ballots. President Robert Mugabe polled 2 110 434 (61,09%) while the opposition MDC-T’s Morgan Tsvangirai had 1 172 349 votes (34,94%).
Zanu PF officials also revealed the party was planning to use its influence to reduce the number of parliamentary seats in urban areas and other opposition strongholds to limit the number of opposition legislators.
“The mapping process is being done and it is possible that some urban constituencies will be joined with rural ones to dilute the urban votes.
“A good example is the Mazowe South constituency, which may include peri-urban suburbs such as Mount Pleasant Heights, part of Marlborough and the Defence College area,” an official said.
As part of its campaign strategy, Zanu PF has also resorted to vote-buying by distributing maize and rice countrywide. The party is sourcing the rice from China as food aid. However, the food is only being given to Zanu PF party members and not the opposition.
Public Service and Social Welfare minister Prisca Mupfumira is allocating rice to provincial affairs ministers who then parcel it out to Zanu PF legislators in their provinces to distribute, shutting out the opposition.