POLITICAL think-tank, Local Solutions Council (LSC), has urged the opposition to re-look its electioneering strategies in rural areas to avoid continuous thumping by the ruling Zanu PF party.
BY NQOBANI NDLOVU
Last week, Zanu PF out-polled the MDC Alliance and seven other parties to grab the Lupane East constituency in a council by-election.
Zanu PF candidate Mbongeni Dube won the seat with 6 371 votes, against 4 505 registered by the MDC Alliance’s Dalumuzi Khumalo.
Other contesting parties got less than 1 000 votes combined.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Zanu PF’s Sithembile Gumbo in April.
The LSC, established in 2000, said it is high time the opposition re-looked at its campaign strategies in rural areas beyond accusing the ruling Zanu PF of using intimidation and vote-buying tactics to win votes.
“In line with the Zanu PF rural election tactics, the opposition parties must regroup, refocus and fight back 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,” LSC president Darlington Nyambiya said.
“And this initiative should focus on strengthening rural party structures, re-look at the rural political economy, mobilisation of resources, initiating flexible anti-rigging mechanisms, set up innovative communication channels for rural voters and create conditions for an inclusive political dialogue.”
The LSC’s objectives are to become Zimbabwe’s leading think-tank, mobilise and find solutions to national challenges, influence Zimbabwean stakeholders to hold national interests in high regard, promote a national culture and environment of democracy, transparency and accountability among others.
Nyambiya emphasised the need for the opposition to coalesce around one candidate to do away with split
“… Therefore, opposition parties need to take a holistic approach to differentiate the rural voter from the urban voter. More importantly, a collaboration of opposition parties needs to launch a special national project which is designed to address the concerns and needs of the rural voter in both the short-term and long-term,” Nyambiya added.
MDC secretary for elections, Jacob Mafume, blamed a skewed electoral environment favouring Zanu PF, while also accusing the ruling party of investing in vote-buying and other intimidatory tactics to win the rural vote.
“The just-ended by-elections in Matabeleland North have once again cast the spotlight on the urgent need for comprehensive political reforms in Zimbabwe…what is emerging clearly as the decisive factor is coercion and manipulation,” he said.
Mafume said intimidatory tactics have engineered a lot of fear in the rural electorate.
“Instead, what we still have in place is an electoral process dominated by other factors whose net effect is to leave everything heavily skewed in favour of Zanu PF,” he said.
However, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo over the weekend defended his party, saying the elections were held in a free, fair and credible manner.
Zanu PF Matabeleland North chairperson Richard Moyo said the party’s victory was inevitable after camping in Lupane for weeks campaigning.