A ZIMBABWE Election Support Network (Zesn) report on the December 9 by-elections has claimed that the ruling Zanu-PF party intimidated voters and used vote-buying tactics to win seats.
The by-elections held on Saturday last week were caused by self-proclaimed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu who recalled 14 CCC legislators and more than 17 CCC councillors claiming that they had ceased to be members of the party.
Nelson Chamisa’s CCC faction suffered a blow after the High Court barred his candidates from contesting in the by-elections when Justice Never Katiyo ruled in favour of Tshabangu who approached the court seeking to bar the candidates.
Zanu PF won 7 out of the 9 contested constituencies.
In its final by-elections report, Zesn said Zanu PF instructed village heads in Binga North to order their subjects to vote for the party in the by-election.
“Zesn members and volunteers noted that in Binga North, Zanu PF had an upper hand in campaigns which were actively championed by the district development co-ordinator who made several inroads in the constituency, holding several meetings with traditional leaders,” the report read.
“On 18 November, in wards 8 and 10 of Binga North, a joint meeting was conducted by Zanu PF at Chief Siachilaba’s homestead. Village heads present were instructed to encourage their subjects to rally behind Zanu PF in the forthcoming by-elections.
“In another meeting held at Gideon Muleya’s homestead, people were urged to vote for Zanu PF and those who voted for CCC would be punished after the elections.”
Section 281(2)(a) of the Zimbabwean Constitution states that traditional leaders must not be members of any political party or in any way participate in partisan politics. Section 281(2)(c) states that traditional leaders must not further the interests or cause of any political party.
Zesn also revealed that Zanu PF was involved in vote buying.
“The campaigns for the 9 December by-elections were characterised by vote buying. Zesn members and volunteers witnessed villagers receiving food hand-outs and farming inputs at Manjolo business centre of Binga North constituency. The Zanu PF candidate also distributed 10kg bags of mealie-meal at the same business centre,” further read the report.
According to the Constitution, central government is mandated to take a leading role in food aid distribution, but Zanu PF has been accused of hijacking government food aid distribution programmes to harvest votes.
Zanu PF director of information Farai Marapira rubbished the Zesn report.
“This report by Zesn does not surprise us. They cannot accept the fact that the people of Zimbabwe voted for the party they like. Zesn has always existed to serve their colonial master. As Zanu PF, we are not fuzzed by the claims in that report,” he said.