Mugabe’s party unveils battle plan
BY JASON MOYO
Zanu-PF will use empowerment to win votes, but may be hamstrung by the sorry
state of its coffers.
President Robert Mugabe will place his controversial empowerment policy at
the head of his re-election campaign, according to a strategy detailed in a
new internal report by his central committee. But should this not be enough,
his party is ready to target Zimbabwean churches, singers and even burial
societies to win Mugabe a seventh term in office.
Zanu-PF is still divided, the document says it is broke and there are doubts
about how much campaigning Mugabe, who will be 89 when the next election
takes place, will manage. But the latest report of the Zanu-PF central
committee lays out a campaign strategy that shows how desperate the party is
to overcome its problems and win his re-election.
Not surprisingly, the empowerment crusade, which Mugabe describes in a
preamble to the report as being of “immense historic and revolutionary
significance for our people and for posterity”, will anchor his campaign.
According to the report, the empowerment programme will “decrease fear in
our supporters and increase the fear [in] our opponents, leading us to
“As we approach the impending election, we have stepped up efforts to
implement a political programme of mobilisation anchored on
the indigenisation and economic empowerment policy,” the report says. “This
political programme might have a strong bearing on the success of the
All party candidates will need to develop “a localised campaign plan that
neatly ties in with the indigenisation and empowerment imperatives” of their
area, the report says.
To make sure the empowerment message wins votes, the party will target
church groups, unions and young people and “empower their members to get
their endorsement and support”.
The report reveals the party’s plans to lure popular figures into its web of
patronage in exchange for public endorsement: “We must identify influential
people in our society, like celebrity musicians [and] sports personalities,
empower them and get them to support the indigenisation programme – and
Zanu-PF by association.”
Party leaders, including Mugabe, will be “spearheading [the] mobilisation of
religious, traditional and commercial organisations in an endeavour to
increase the support base of the party”.
Beyond empowerment, Zanu-PF has a few other aces to play. Apart from
consolidating relationships with artists and music groups, the party plans
“mass mobilisation through funeral insurance and burial societies”. The
latter are influential in Zimbabwe, especially in poor communities.
The party wants to produce books, films, documentaries and “articles of
regalia”, says the report.
Zanu-PF also envisages a new economic policy, a response to the recently
launched economic plan of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), known by
its acronym Juice (jobs, upliftment, capital investment and ecology).
“The [Zanu-PF] economic blueprint will compare favourably against the MDC’s
Juice election manifesto and win the hearts of the electorate, resulting in
a resounding victory for Zanu-PF,” the strategy document predicts.
The youth wing plans to recruit “young entrepreneurs” to the party and
infiltrate college student councils to ensure they are led by “student
representatives who have the proper political orientation”.
Economically viable policies
Zanu-PF is known for its suspicion of technology and one of the resolutions
at the end of its conference last week warned rights groups against handing
out cellphones to villagers. But the party will finally launch an internet
campaign so that it can fight back in the “global information war” it says
is being waged against it through the likes of CNN, Sky News, the BBC “and
even the English version of Al Jazeera as well as the use of internet
Zanu-PF, says the document, will exert “great effort to put the party
website to better use, in line with modern trends”.
But the party says its strategy might fail because of poor finances. It is
surviving on a $500 000 overdraft and the report claims that Zanu-PF
collected only $4.6million this year – from membership card sales,
$2.5-million in donations and a state grant – whereas its spending was close
Zanu-PF owes $240 000 in phone bills, cannot afford to run a website, is
failing to pay salaries and owes money to its lawyers.
The document reveals how the party hopes to raise money by pursuing
“populist but economically viable policies such as the acquisition of mining
concessions and hunting concessions for the party”.
The report offers glimpses into just why the party struggles to appeal to
younger voters. Zanu-PF says it remains guided by “the teachings of his
excellency, comrade President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, which are based on the
integration of the basic tenets of Marxism-Leninism with practical
experiences of the Zimbabwe revolution”.