Minister exposes vote-buying plot

Anxious Masuka

LANDS and Agriculture minister Anxious Masuka has unwittingly exposed Zanu PF’s plot to use State resources to buy votes ahead of next year’s polls.

Addressing villagers in the Chinyamukwakwa area of Chisumbanje, Chipinge, over the weekend while handing over 250 plots from ethanol producer, Green Fuel to villagers, Masuka told villagers that they would receive free farming inputs, but stressed that the inputs were on condition that they vote for Zanu PF’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

“Right now we see the rains are coming and we are busy ensuring that we organise and provide all inputs for you on time. That is what we call Rural Development 8.0 so that you will be able to get the inputs on time. The electoral  campaign period is still way ahead. I am not a campaign manager, but let me try it here. When you are given these agricultural inputs, you must think of one person in your mind — and that is the person who has given you the inputs — President [Emmerson Mnangagwa]. When you are given goats, think deeply of the person who has remembered you — you must return the favour and remember him too in 2023,” Masuka said.

Vote-buying, especially in the rural  areas, is seen as one of the rigging mechanisms used to sway votes in favour of the ruling Zanu PF party during elections.

Masuka also told the villagers that Zanu PF legislators had been given the mandate to oversee the distribution of government farming inputs.

His justification was that the inputs are from government, and Zanu PF forms government.

“I now want to speak on the issue of Members of Parliament (MPs). We had a situation whereby the inputs disappeared before they got to the beneficiaries. So the MPs should be witnesses during distribution to oversee it. This is because these inputs come from Zanu PF, which is the ruling party that forms government, and government acts on what Zanu PF says. So, the party must not be excluded,” he added.

On several occasions, Zanu PF has been accused of politicising agricultural inputs and food aid. This has often happened during electoral periods as it canvasses for support.

Opposition supporters have been victims by reportedly being denied food aid and government farm inputs.

This is despite that section 136(1) of the Electoral Act prohibits politicians from giving voters freebies to induce them to vote or refrain from voting.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) spokesperson Jasper Mangwana requested questions in writing, but had not responded to them at the time of going to print.

Zimbabwe Peace Project executive director Jestina Mukoko said it was unfair that villagers were being commandeered to vote for a particular party through use of State resources. 

“It is against the Electoral Act. Politicians need to be reminded that they must follow humanitarian standards in distributing food aid or presidential inputs. The President also needs to be reminded that the money to secure presidential inputs does not come from his pockets, it’s from State funds, hence must be distributed fairly to every citizen who is eligible regardless of political affiliation.  The issue of politicisation of farming inputs and food aid has left villagers vulnerable and women in a more difficult situation.”

Meanwhile, Masuka also exposed Zanu PF’s plot to pamper village heads and chiefs with more provisions under presidential schemes such as cotton, goat, poultry, community fisheries and climate-proof input schemes, among others.

“You will be given enough fertilisers and other inputs for three plots.  Village heads are in the distribution committees because they will know all of you. We will give village heads more than everyone else — for seven plots, because long back when there was drought, the village heads would assist those who would be starving. The headmen will also be given inputs for nine plots while the chief will get inputs for eleven plots. Don’t think that these have been favoured, we have all been given by President ED,” Masuka told the Chipinge villagers.

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