Zanu in election charm offensive in Harare

fertilizerHARARE President Robert Mugabes ZANU PF is using farm inputs to bribe Harare residents as the faction-riddled former ruling party embarks on an electoral charm offensive to crawl back into the capital where it has struggled to win seats since 2000.

In a desperate move to endear itself with the electorate, Zimbabwes former sole ruling party started last week to donate maize seed and fertilizer to Harare residents.

In one of the cases, ZANU PF officials in the Mabelreign area offered residents no-strings-attached two kilogramme packets of seed and fertilizer in what observers say is part of an overall strategy to revive the partys collapsed structures in the city.

We just took the seed and fertilizer but there is no guarantee that we are now ZANU PF supporters. After all, its our money that was used to buy those inputs, said one of the recipients who spoke to ZimOnline on condition he was not named for fear of victimisation.

The freebies have until now been reserved for the rural electorate and the extension of the donations to Harare shows ZANU PFs desperation to wrestle control of the cities from the former opposition MDC-T led by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai.

Mugabes party lost all but one of Harares 29 parliamentary seats during the last general election held in March 2008.

It also failed to secure any seats in the second largest city of Bulawayo while it managed just a few seats in other major towns such as Mutare, Masvingo and Gweru.

Zimbabwe is next year looking to hold a referendum on a new constitution followed by elections that many analysts have warned could see a return to violence without political, security and electoral reforms.

Zimbabwes elections have been characterized by political violence and gross human rights abuses with the last vote in June 2008 ending inconclusively after the military-led campaign of violence and murder that forced Tsvangirai to withdraw from a second round presidential ballot.

He had earlier narrowly won the first round ballot in March of that year.

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