ZANU PF has deployed party heavyweights to mobilise support for the party’s position ahead of Copac’s second All-Stakeholders Conference set for the 4th to the 6th of next month.
REPORT BY PATRICE MAKOVA
Sources said the senior party officials, among them politburo members, cabinet ministers and provincial chairpersons, were also using the exercise to gauge the public mood ahead of elections it wants held early next year.
“Potential party delegates are being coached what to say during the All-Stakeholders Conference, while ordinary people are already being prepared for the referendum and subsequent elections,” said a senior party official.
He said the party had tentatively put February next year, as the month when elections should be held. “Party supporters are being told to prepare for elections immediately after the referendum. The Supreme Court decision forcing President Mugabe to order the holding of by-elections in vacant seats will possibly be superseded by general elections, which he is likely to slate for February if all goes well.”
Another source said the party’s provincial chairpersons returned from China a fortnight ago, where they had gone for ideological training and coaching on political tactics. The Chinese, a few months ago, reportedly promised to campaign for a Zanu PF victory.
Just over a week ago, Mines and Mining Development minister, Obert Mpofu organised rallies in Victoria Falls, where more than 700 alleged MDC-T supporters from the area claimed to have defected to Zanu PF.
The MDC-T has however dismissed the defections as stage managed.
Other politburo members such as Local Government, Rural and Urban Development minister Ignatious Chombo and Tendai Savanhu were also seen yesterday addressing party supporters at so-called party development meetings.
But Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said official election campaigning had not yet started, as the party was preparing for the second All-Stakeholders Conference.
“We are not coaching people as such, but simply teaching them our position so that they know what to say and do,” he said. “There is nothing untoward about it. This is called political mobilisation.”
He said Zanu PF provincial chairpersons were in China for a leadership development exchange programme at the invitation of the Chinese Communist Party.
There are reports that Zanu PF plans to hijack the conference in order to bulldoze the numerous amendments it made to the Copac draft.
The two MDC formations have however rejected the amendments.
Civil society organisations on Friday complained that they were being excluded from the All-Stakeholders Conference, as the three parties would provide all the 2 000 delegates to the event.
In a statement, Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said it was being insinuated that each of the three parties would provide 600 delegates, with the remaining 200 delegates being reserved for Parliamentarians.
Zanu PF Copac co-chairperson, Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana confirmed that the All-Stakeholders Conference would be held from the 4th of October but added that only 1 000 delegates would attend the conference.
He said 70% of the seats had instead been reserved for civil society organisations.
“Political parties have only been allocated 30% of the 1 000 seats who will attend the second All-Stakeholders conference,” he said.