THE MDC parties yesterday attacked Zanu PF candidates for doling out food handouts and other goodies at campaign rallies, describing the move as a clear case of vote-buying and a breach of the Electoral Act and a Code of Conduct signed by all political parties.
REPORT BY JOHN NYASHANU
This comes as First Lady Grace Mugabe has been dishing out truckloads of foodstuffs — including maize meal, sugar beans, cooking oil and salt — at all rallies addressed by President Robert Mugabe.
In Mashonaland Central, Grace donated 22 tonnes of foodstuffs last week before proceeding to Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera where she again dished out 10 tonnes of mealie meal, 10 tonnes of sugar beans, 560 cases of cooking oil and salt.
She went on to donate foodstuffs of similar quantities in Chitungwiza.
MDC-T spokesperson Douglas Mwonzora said: “It is vote-buying and we hope Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) is looking at this and that appropriate penalties should follow. It is in the Code of Conduct signed by all contesting parties. Chapter 7 of the new Constitution and our electoral laws also prohibit such actions.”
MDC spokesperson Kuraone Chihwayi also took a swipe at Zanu PF’s strategy, saying: “It’s a party in serious crisis. It is clear they are on a vote-buying crusade. People have been suffering for ages and suddenly they (politicians) surface with tonnes of food. What I want to assure them (Zanu PF) is that people will wear their T-shirts and eat their food, but will never vote for them.”
Political analyst McDonald Lewanika said: “It’s a clear attempt to buy votes. This is a strategy they have always used. We have seen them donating fertiliser before, ahead of elections. However, vote-buying, in a free and fair poll, is unacceptable.”
Part XIX of the Electoral Act and specifically section 136 (1)(c) criminalises making “any gift, loan, offer, promise, procurement or agreement to or for any person in order to induce such person to procure or endeavour to procure the return of a candidate at an election or the vote of a voter at an election”.
According to the Act, anyone found guilty can be liable to a two-year imprisonment.
Strenuous efforts to get a comment from Zec at the time of going to print yesterday were fruitless as the electoral body had not responded to questions forwarded to them, while Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo and secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa could not be reached for comment.