Zanu PF abusing state resources in electoral campaigns As the 2023 harmonized elections draw near and by-elections for vacant council and parliamentary seats are presumed to be a few months away, Zanu PF is allegedly abusing state resources to drum up campaigns. Thousands of supporters are reportedly bused to different locations using Zupco buses that are diverted from various routes leaving commuters stranded.
Zupco is a parastatal which is currently being revived by the government through acquisitions of a new fleet to ease the country’s public transport crisis. It is alleged that Zanu PF does not pay for the bus company’s services. The ruling party has also been using the presidential input scheme to campaign in different areas. This is despite the scheme being funded by the government through the Treasury and President Emmerson Mnangagwa purporting the scheme to be apolitical.
There are various media reports of opposition supporters being denied access to the inputs while in other areas ruling party supporters are given first preference as they make up the distribution committee in league with Agriculture Research and Extention (AREX) officers. At a recent distributions of inputs in Goromonzi South constituency, Zanu PF officials would be seen openly campaigning. Among the officials who were at the event was Deputy Minister of Gender and Social Welfare and the area’s losing parliamentary candidate Petronella Kagonye.
Though Kagonye did not openly urge people to vote for her, members of her entourage, among them a senior official and member of the party’s District Coordinating Committee only identified as Cde Bamusi. “I am not part of the Pfumvudza inputs distribution team but I step in as part of the area’s leadership to make sure things go smoothly,” said Bamusi addressing hundreds of farmers after chanting a slogan that dismisses the country’s main opposition the MDC as traitors who do not want progress.
Another official who was part of Kagonye’s entourage asked people to vote for Zanu PF in the fourth coming election. “President Mnangagwa gives you inputs for free so that your families are well fed. He does not ask you to give him anything in return but only your vote in the coming elections,” said the unidentified official. The ruling party also uses the inputs distributions to announce their various programs which they believe beneficiaries are mandated to attend. The country’s main opposition MDC Alliance has been calling for electoral reforms to ensure a level playing field during elections. It is however not every opposition party that believes Zanu PF is wrong in using state funded programs to campaign. “According to the constitution of Zimbabwe, Ministers are appointed from the sitting MPs (parliamentarians) and only 7 (amended) from non-MPs,” said Lead president Linda Musarira.
“This surely gives Zanu PF members a mandate to deliver as MPs and Ministers. When MPs deliver in their constituencies, they work with members of Zanu PF. One way or the other, they are doing government duties.” “According to the laws of Zimbabwe, AID and inputs are supposed to be distributed through the community leaders. These community leaders are led by councillors. When these councillors are from Zanu PF, it means, they will use the extension from their party to distribute.”
Lead president Linda Musarira
Musarira said if government officials were to distribute food aid and inputs they would need monetary compensation. “Councillors working with their party members only benefit first preference and secondly, swift campaign,” she said. Musarira said the only way to balance the playing field will be denying Zanu PF access to government’s political party financing as they already enjoy many benefits as the ruling party. “Due to the fact that we now have over 100 political parties, it will be difficult to finance every political party,” she said. “We therefore want to see ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) managing campaigns for every contestants using the same budget enjoyed by Zanu PF and MDC.” Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF were futile.