ZANU PF has all but admitted its grassroots structures have collapsed prompting the party to plan the deployment of politburo members and other senior party officials on a nationwide drive to revive them ahead of polls expected in March next year.
Report by Everson Mushava/ Nduduzo Tshuma
Commenting after Wednesday’s politburo meeting, party spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told NewsDay that the party would hold inter-district meetings countrywide to be addressed by politburo members and other senior officials to mobilise voters ahead of the elections.
“What we talked about was the revamping of the party structures throughout the country that will see the introduction of new party cards. Every politburo member from the respective districts will be involved in mobilising supporters,” Gumbo said yesterday.
“We will hold district meetings to be addressed by politburo members throughout the country. Senior party officials will help
in revamping the structures from cells, branches to the districts.”
Gumbo said the party would also introduce new cards as it intensifies its mass mobilisation drive.
Zanu PF rivals allege the cards are being used to identify the party’s members so that they access government services, aid and ancillary services ahead of non-Zanu PF supporters.
According to a 2011 central committee report, Zanu PF has 579 312 members out of Zimbabwe’s estimated 14 million people, with provinces struggling to recruit new supporters.
Matabeleland North only sold 8 639 cards against a target of 35 000 for the year 2011.
War veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda claims he has already told President Robert Mugabe, the party’s leader, of Zanu PF’s waning support even in his home province, Mashonaland West and other former party strongholds.
He claimed imposition of candidates and factionalism had killed the party’s support base.
In June this year, Zanu PF was forced to disband its district co-co-ordinating committees (DCCs) structures responsible for mobilising supporters at grassroots level owing to divisions and factionalism.
However, some believe the disbanding of the DCCs left a huge gap in the mobilisation of supporters.
Critics allege the party has since roped in the army to take over the role of DCCs, triggering fears of a recurrence of the 2008 violent polls.
As March draws near, the party has been embarking on several campaign strategies, most of them bordering on vote-buying to mobilise support.
Only last week, Mugabe rolled out a $20 million farm inputs scheme which is set to benefit over 800 000 families, in a move described by his opponents in government as vote-buying using revenue from the Marange diamonds, although Zanu PF claims the money was raised from local well-wishers.
Meanwhile, a handful of Zanu PF supporters turned up to welcome Mugabe at the Joshua Mqabuko International Airport yesterday, a development attributed to the growing factionalism especially within the Bulawayo provincial structures.
Mugabe was in the city to preside over the graduation ceremony at the National University of Science and Technology (NUST).
Uncharacteristic of his numerous previous arrivals in the city, the President’s plane touched down just after 10am only for the veteran leader to be welcomed by a few party members, transported in three kombis.
Without interacting with them like he usually does, Mugabe headed straight to his motorcade, accompanied by Bulawayo provincial governor Cain Mathema.
During last year’s official opening of the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair, Mines and Mining Development minister Obert Mpofu, who is also Umguza MP, reportedly bussed around 6 000 supporters from his constituency to welcome Mugabe and Zambia President Michael Sata, who was guest of honour.
A party insider who spoke on condition of anonymity attributed the low turnout to infighting within Zanu PF.
“There are divisions in the party especially among the youth that is why you see few people. The commissariat department had to make last-minute arrangements so that these people could come, otherwise the situation was going to be more embarrassing,” the party insider said.