BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
ZANU PF has predicted an outright victory in Saturday’s by-election in Tsholotsho South’s wards 16 and 20 amid claims of vote buying and intimidation of opposition MDC supporters.
By-elections are being held in the two wards after the ruling party expelled sitting councillors on charges of embezzling Communal Areas Management Programme for Indigenous Resources (Campfire) funds.
Campfire is a government project established in 1988 to ensure that communities derive maximum benefit from the land that they occupy, which has suitable habitat for wildlife, as well as for livestock and agriculture.
In separate interviews on Friday, Zanu PF Matabeleland North chairperson Richard Moyo predicted a victory for the party in the by-election, while MDC Matabeleland North deputy chairperson Jabulani Hadebe accused the ruling party of investing more on various vote buying and other intimidation tactics.
“We are doing quite well in our campaigns and victory is certain. We have already won,” Moyo said.
“There is no way we can lose the by-election after we caused the two seats to be vacant after we fired our sitting councillors there.”
Hadebe said the party changed tact in the electioneering period to engage in door to door campaigns in a bid to win the two vacant local government seats.
“Our people are happy with our door to door campaigns because it provides them with an opportunity to ask questions on important issues as opposed to
rallies,which are not interactive,” he said.
“However, we note incidences of vote buying by the ruling party.
“They (Zanu PF) have flooded the area with all kinds of vote buying gimmicks such as using food aid.
“Our message is very clear; there is no need to vote back any councillor as they have proved to be corrupt, for example, in relation to the Campfire funds.”
The Campfire programme was designed to give control of wildlife management to rural communities so that they receive dividends and is seen as a vehicle for job creation and empowerment of livelihoods in rural communities.
The MDC has struggled in rural by-elections against Zanu PF with a Zimbabwean think-tank suggesting that it is time the opposition re-looks its electioneering strategies in rural areas.
“In line with the Zanu PF rural election tactics; the opposition parties must regroup, refocus and fightback to overcome its current electoral challenges.
“The opposition should initiate a special national project where it should launch a platform for counter rural election tactics,” the non-profit Local Solutions Council established in 2000 recently said.
“And this initiative should focus on strengthening rural party structures, relook at the rural political economy, mobilisation of resources, initiating flexible anti-rigging mechanism, set up innovative communications channels for rural voters and create the conditions for an inclusive political dialogue.”