Zanu PF Accused of Voter Intimidation and Bribery in By-elections

By Lovejoy Mutongwiza

A report by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has alleged that the ruling Zanu PF party used threats and inducements to secure victory in the December 9 by-elections.

The by-elections were triggered by Sengezo Tshabangu, the self-styled interim secretary-general of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), who recalled 14 CCC MPs and over 17 CCC councillors, claiming that they had defected from the party.

The CCC faction led by Nelson Chamisa was dealt a blow when the High Court stopped their candidates from participating in the by-elections, following an application by Tshabangu to bar them.

Zanu PF won 7 of the 9 seats that were contested.

According to the Zesn report, Zanu PF coerced village heads in Binga North to instruct their people to vote for the ruling party.

“Zesn observers and volunteers reported that Zanu PF had a dominant presence in Binga North, where the district development co-ordinator spearheaded several campaigns and met with traditional leaders,” the report stated.

“On November 18, in wards 8 and 10 of Binga North, Zanu PF held a joint meeting at Chief Siachilaba’s home. Village heads who attended were told to persuade their people to support Zanu PF in the upcoming by-elections.

“At another meeting at Gideon Muleya’s home, people were told to vote for Zanu PF and warned that they would face consequences if they voted for CCC.”

The Zimbabwean Constitution, in Section 281(2)(a), prohibits traditional leaders from being members or supporters of any political party. Section 281(2)© also forbids them from advancing the interests or agenda of any political party.

The Zesn report also exposed Zanu PF’s involvement in vote buying.

“The by-elections campaigns were marked by vote buying. Zesn observers and volunteers saw villagers receiving food aid and agricultural inputs at Manjolo business centre in Binga North. The Zanu PF candidate also handed out 10kg bags of maize meal at the same centre,” the report added.

The Constitution requires the central government to be responsible for food distribution, but Zanu PF has been accused of using government food aid to lure voters.

Zanu PF’s information director Farai Marapira dismissed the Zesn report.

“We are not surprised by this report from Zesn. They cannot accept the reality that the people of Zimbabwe chose the party they love. Zesn has always been a puppet of their colonial master. As Zanu PF, we are not bothered by the allegations in that report,” he said.

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