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
“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
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
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
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
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
Gift Phiri, Political Editor