THE opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) says 80% of its leader Nelson Chamisa’s campaign rallies will be held in the rural areas, which is traditionally viewed as a Zanu PF stronghold.
CCC spokesperson, Fadzayi Mahere, said they had started implementing the strategy, with Chamisa addressing three rallies in Midlands province on Wednesday, starting with one at Chachacha business centre in Shurugwi.
By mid-day he was at Mhandamabwe business centre in Chivi before ending the day in Zvishavane.
“President Chamisa has been on a campaign trail non-stop. These rallies are going to be predominantly in the rural areas,” Mahere said.
"We know the people we are dealing with, so we are not going to give them a schedule right here right now. We know they are here and they are listening but rest assured that our bona fide media would be told.
"Sometimes for the protection of citizens in certain areas we have to do things and then report afterwards so that the citizens remain safe where they are.”
Zanu PF has maintained a footprint in the rural areas, but security reports from the ruling party reveal concerns over the way CCC is making inroads into its support base.
Chamisa has been having it rough in holding his campaign rallies, with police blocking most of the events citing various reasons.
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Just yesterday, police barred CCC from holding roadshows in Beitbridge to drum up support for Chamisa’s Sunday rally in the border town.
The CCC took the matter to court, but Beitbridge magistrate Takudzwa Gwazemba ruled in favour of the police.
Gwazemba said police’s claims that they had inadequate resources to provide escort during the roadshows were genuine.
Police have blocked several CCC rallies across the country including the party’s 2023 election campaign launch which was scheduled for Bindura.
Chamisa was only allowed to launch his election campaign in Gweru, Midlands province, on Sunday.
On rallies being banned, Mahere said: “The ban on CCC rallies has nothing to do with the law and everything to do with repression.
“In those instances where police say that we have not complied with the Maintenance of Peace and Order Act (Mopa) they are unable to articulate which section would have been violated because there is simply no non-compliance.
“Our letters notifying the police are on a template. The police are not being honest."
Analysts yesterday commended Chamisa for his deliberate strategy to target the rural vote.
“Rural areas are also where the democratic space is most constrained through a cocktail of measures that includes intimidation, violence, partisan traditional leadership and exclusionary welfare programmes,” political analyst Vivid Gwede said.
“Visibility by the opposition will break some of these barriers to its message being received by these communities."
Another political commentator Effie Ncube said the rural vote could gift Chamisa the presidency.
“For the opposition the rural electorate has been its underbelly. It's been underperforming otherwise it would have been in power,” Ncube said.
“Those are the people that have sustained Zanu PF’s stay in power, so if you want to undo Zanu PF’s stay in power you need to go into its base that is in the rural areas and get the votes there.”
Analyst Rashweat Mukundu weighed in saying: “Targeting rural communities gives such voting base assurance and confidence but also challenges Zanu PF more directly in an area it sees as its safe political turf.”