Zanu PF campaign strategy exposed

HARARE - President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF is pulling out all the stops, unveiling a cocktail of empowerment strategies to fight Zimbabwe’s most tightly-contested presidential election in more than a decade.

Rival political parties and civil society say Zanu PF and the state security agents have already stepped up the “usual” election violence in many parts of the country.

Besides violence and intimidation, it seems the party is also looking at means of enticing voters who ditched both Zanu PF and Mugabe in 2008 when Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his party won the March 2008 polls.

Styling himself as a champion for the poor, Mugabe is working on increasing access to wealth for many of Zimbabwe’s disadvantaged in a re-election drive his party says “has the capacity to appeal to electorate in a massive way,” according to Zanu PF’s strategy paper seen by the Daily News.

Mugabe’s party is proposing nine empowerment strategies for key sectors of the economy ahead of elections.

It is moving to immediately set up a “small-scale miners’ fund” that will enable miners to buy critical equipment such as water pumps, generators, stamp mills and compressors in a blatant vote-buying gimmick.

“The loans will not require that the small-scale miners provide collateral other than the mining claims they would be holding and the equipment,” said the strategy paper from the just-ended Zanu PF conference in Gweru.

“The equipment will be given on a leaseback arrangement that will allow them to buy back the equipment at the end of the lease.

“The revolving fund should (also) be used to capacitate buyers of minerals like gold, emeralds, feldspar, tantalite, quartz and tourmaline to ensure that competition is brought about in the marketing to reduce incidences of a few buyers short-changing the small-scale miners.”

In the run-up to the election, Mugabe has stepped up public spending, he unveiled a controversial $20 million farm inputs scheme last month and has been giving away free inputs to villagers.

“The inputs distribution network should be widened to new groups of farmers,” the party’s strategy paper says.

Zanu PF says it will use existing structures like the State-run Agritex and technical colleges Chibero Agricultural College in Norton and Kushinga Phikelela National Farmer Training Centre in Marondera to run customised farmer training programmes in each and every district.

The 49-year-old liberation party is also proposing a cocktail of measures to curry favour with indigenous traders.

Mugabe says a further five years would allow him to deepen his “revolution” and increase socialism in Zimbabwe.

“We therefore seek to open opportunity for expanding trading spaces in urban areas,” the strategy paper says.

“Efforts will also be made to identify trading spaces within urban areas, which shall be established as ‘Empowerment Parks’ and opened up for indigenous Zimbabweans to carry out their businesses.

“We call for the establishment of Empowerment Wholesalers in the rural areas to be linked to a rural retailer’s fund.”

Zanu PF is also promising less electricity load shedding if elected by opening up the energy and power sector to private players, according to documents at hand.

“We need to prioritise investment in energy sources with a possible extension of compliance periods for those companies seeking to invest in this sector because it is key to the revival of the economy,” the paper says.

“Where extension is granted, we will insist on technological transfer through the setup of Built-Operate-Transfer industries in the sector.”

But another five years of a Mugabe government is a worrying prospect for some Zimbabweans.

Foreign business owners say some of Mugabe’s policies have made life extremely difficult for them.

Expropriations of land and businesses have sown seeds of uncertainty in the minds of investors.

Foreign currency shortages have made importing extremely difficult, causing headaches for entrepreneurs.
A tourism operator on the banks of Lake Chivero, who declined to be named fearing victimisation, is just about ready to give up on Zimbabwe.

“There have been invasions as late as 2010, after the GNU,” he says.

“We are looking at pursuing interests in Zambia where we recently set up another venture. We feel we can do much better there than here.”

It is not only Zimbabwean residents who will be watching this election closely, but several other investors.

Says Zanu PF in its indigenisation strategy paper on the tourism and hospitality sector: “There is need to deliberately empower local people in areas that are congested by foreigners especially in the conservancies, restaurants, casinos etc. Locals must be trained to run white-dominated businesses.”

Zanu PF is also planning to set up community share ownership trusts in all tourism and related activities.
Zanu PF, buoyed by diamonds cash, also wants to set up a “loan fund” specifically designed to assist indigenous players in engineering and construction — with guarantees of government construction and engineering projects or tenders serving as collateral in the envisaged deals.

And all foreign firms will be forced to subcontract at least 10 percent of total value of work to indigenous construction firms based in that respective province. This will be gazetted soon, according to the strategy paper.

Zanu PF is also ramping up the computerisation programme to rural and urban schools as well as to community groups and church organisations, with local indigenous computer suppliers given top priority.

The party says it will also facilitate the setting up of agro-processing industries in areas with abundant resources; and again companies will be compelled to buy raw materials from indigenous Zimbabweans.

Despite stern warnings even from Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono against the planned seizure of majority stakes in foreign-owned banks, Zanu PF insists that the banking and financial services sector “should be further indigenised and transformed so that it serves the needs of local people.”

“Banks should be compelled to up their deposits-to-loans ratios while micro-finance institutions need to be capitalised and assisted to spread to rural areas to fund previously marginalised (groups).”

Zanu PF is also mulling an indigenisation stock market.

“We are devising ways of facilitating the entry of new money into the economy including planning for the creation of an indigenisation stock exchange and mobilisation of empowerment bonds and other funds on the international market.”

Mugabe told his supporters at the Zanu PF conference last Saturday: “Let us now go to the election with this strong weapon of our policies. That is our greatest weapon. We are different from the other creatures.”

Challenger Morgan Tsvangirai, the 60-year-old Prime Minister, a trade unionist-turned-career politician, has been criss-crossing the country trying to galvanise support among the wider electorate for his presidential bid, promising to create one million jobs by 2018 if elected, increasing the economic growth rate exponentially, reducing the inflation rate, delivering a $100 billion economy by 2040, improving electricity generation and building a social contract between government, workers and employers.

Tsvangirai’s promises to maintain social programmes while also encouraging private enterprise appear to have struck a chord with many voters.

Given what is at stake, there are concerns that violence could erupt between rival supporters, but all parties have spoken out strongly against the scourge. -
Gift Phiri, Political Editor

Comments (2)

Znpf is out of touch with reality. Everyone is worried about teaching Zimbabweans history. We want food education and jobs period. I like this one they are busy controlling using the rear view mirror instead of looking where we Re going . It explains why our our country is in most cases loosing direction

Frankmafu - 14 December 2012

If they have all these bright ideas now, why haven't they done anything like it in the last 32 years. It's just vote buying and if they were to win, they wouldn't do anything that they are promising. They are a bunch of liars and we shouldn't be fooled by them this time. They will never change so let's get rid of them and hold them accountable for what they have done and are about to do again.

Peter Macklyn - 14 December 2012

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