BY MOSES MATENGA
ZANU PF is dangling a carrot to youths ahead of the 2023 general elections, promising to dish out land and agricultural inputs to lure them to vote for the ruling party in the polls in which young people are expected to be a deciding factor.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa last week announced a plan to empower youths in agriculture, an initiative his spokesperson George Charamba yesterday described as a “horror scenario for the opposition”.
Under the scheme, government will avail 500 hectares of land, 600 cattle in each province and inputs support to the youths.
This, Charamba said, would deflate the opposition youths who have of late been buoyed by the Zambian campaign, where Patriotic Front leader Edgar Lungu lost to opposition United Party for National Development leader Hakainde Hichilema.
“Horror scenario for opposition: To imagine Zanu PF going beyond infrastructural discourse to tackle issues of youth stomachs is a forbidding prospect for the opposition politically,” he posted on his Twitter handle @Jamwanda2.
“They had banked on the Zambian youth refrain of, we don’t eat roads. With the setting aside of 500 hectares in each province for youthful settlers, coupled with distribution of 600 cattle and infrastructural and input support ahead of a promising season, the die is definitely cast for maChinja (the MDC Alliance). Meanwhile, infrastructure in and around cities is getting mended.”
Zanu PF is targeting to register five million new voters, largely from the youths.
The ruling party has been enjoying the support of the elderly population and war veterans in the past elections, while the opposition has enjoyed the support of mainly the youths in urban centres.
Zanu PF is more worried about the high death toll within the elderly population, hence the shift to the youth vote.
The MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa, who came close to edging Mnangagwa in the 2018 polls, is planning to register over six million voters, mainly the young and first-time voters, who will likely contribute the biggest voting population in the forthcoming polls.
Youth Forum Zimbabwe director Ashton Bumhira described the doling out of land and inputs to the youths as a vote buying gimmick.
“Ordinarily, for young people who have been clamouring for a piece of the national cake, this should be something to cheer about, but in this instance, it’s nothing to write home about,” he said.
“Six hundred cattle is a drop in the ocean and we all know this is a partisan initiative using national resources.
“Secondly, the ruling party has a history of promising much, but delivering nothing. This is a fruit being dangled in front of young people to buy to win their vote come 2023. It remains to be seen if, indeed, it will come to fruition, but history tells us it’s one of those rally talks meant to entice the youth vote towards Zanu PF.”
MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatywayo said the move was clearly for campaign purposes, but the youths would not fall for the trap.
“They are abusing the taxpayers’ money as they prepare to buy votes. The youths are cleverer than that. That is the problem with party and government conflation, where resources are used for campaign purposes,” he
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was not immediately available for comment, but other top party officials are on record saying there was nothing wrong with empowering youths as it was their party’s thrust to empower Zimbabweans.
Meanwhile, the party’s technical committee led by director for administration, Dickson Dzora, said the party was now taking stock of its 2018 promises and focusing on the state of the party and the economy.
He was speaking after inspecting the venues for the party’s annual national people’s conference in Bindura, Mashonaland Central province.
“As a party which is people-centred with people-centred policies, we need now to take stock of promises made in 2018 and the resolutions which were made in Esigodini (December 2018), in Goromonzi (December 2019) and the economic transformation programme and see where we are with the state of the party and then now address the state of the economy,” Dzora said.
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