Campaign rally turnout likely to work in favor of CCC but deceive ZANU PF

  Indeed, under normal circumstances – how a political entity performs on the campaign trail, with the subsequent public support – usually are strong reliable signals of how results will pan out come election day. Yet, in Zimbabwe the story is slightly different – and, if not studied and scrutinized meticulously, can be thoroughly misleading,

Tendai Ruben Mbofana

 

Indeed, under normal circumstances – how a political entity performs on the campaign trail, with the subsequent public support – usually are strong reliable signals of how results will pan out come election day.

Yet, in Zimbabwe the story is slightly different – and, if not studied and scrutinized meticulously, can be thoroughly misleading, thereby providing competing parties a false sense of security.

As the country braces itself for the March 26, 2022 parliamentary and local government by-elections – the past few weeks have been characterized by several so-called “Star Rallies” conducted by the main political players expected to be the serious contenders in this plebiscite – the newly-formed Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), led by Nelson Chamisa, and the ruling ZANU PF fronted by president Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa.

Both parties have been bragging over the “thousands” who have thronged their campaign gatherings – which, have been held throughout the breadth and depth of the country.

Yet, should these be a barometer of their true support on the ground, that can be used as a reliable measure of how each party will perform at the polls?

The answer is quite simple – NO!

The bottom line is that, numbers can be used as an accurate measure only if they are garnered honestly!

As such, if the “thousands” who attended a particular rally, at a particular venue – did so on their own free will, out of a genuine love for their party, and are resident in that particular constituency – then, only can the numbers be trusted to translate into votes on the ground.

However, what we have witnessed is completely different – more so, for the ruling ZANU PF – which has always been notorious for bussing in supporters from far afield (away from the constituencies being contested), with reports that most of these people would have actually either been forced under various intimidatory tactics, or promised much-needed handouts in a country whose majority are reeling under unimaginable poverty.

Thus, common sense would question what point is there in having “thousands” of people gathered in a constituency they will not be eligible to cast their votes?

It would not be surprising at all that, only a fraction of those in attendance would be domiciled in that area, and at best, will be the only ones voting for the party’s candidate.

Furthermore, the fact that most of those attending these ruling party rallies, would be doing so under duress and grudgingly – prospects are very high that this would actually push many to loath the authors of their discomfort, and subsequently work against the party, and lose it crucial votes.

No one wants to be forced to do anything.

Additionally, those who would have attended merely due to prospects of receiving desperately wanted handouts and other provisions – are, most likely, already angry with the ruling party for causing their untold suffering and impoverishment, in the first place, and would do anything to rid themselves of this menace upon their lives, once and for all.

On the other hand, though – the opposition CCC’s story is markedly different…in fact, the stark opposite of ZANU PF.

What we have generally witnessed throughout the country are concerted attempts by authorities – especially law enforcement agents – to prevent the successful conducting of any CCC rallies.

These efforts have been characterized by frequent denying of permission to hold gatherings – or, in the event that this is grudgingly granted, the police have not hesitated to impose nearly impractical restrictions, have placed numerous checkpoints that were reportedly meant to deny most motorists passage, as well as brazen attacks on opposition supporters, as occured in Gokwe a few weeks ago, after a last-minute banning of a previously-approved rally.

Furthermore, a CCC rally was violently attacked by suspected ZANU PF supporters at a rally in Kwekwe, whereby several were injured, and one brutally murdered.

Yet, in spite of all these sinister machinations – which were clearly counter-intuitive and smacking of double-standards, since no such conditions and hurdles were ever placed on the way of the ruling party – thousands still flocked to hear the opposition’s leader, Chamisa.

Since the bussing of supporters was one of those strict prohibitions imposed on the CCC, one would assume that those “thousands” were from the particular constituencies in which the gatherings were held – thereby, highly probable that these would be the same people voting for the local candidate.

The fact that these “thousands” also attended on their own volition – having defied law enforcement orders and attempts to disrupt these rallies, with the real menacing possibility of attacks by ruling party hooligans – would be proof enough of a genuine commitment to their party and its candidates, which, most likely, could result in real votes on the ground.

Not to be ignored are the “on-the-fence” undecided voters – who may actually end up rooting for the “underdog” – as the saying goes, “everyone loves the underdog” – out of sheer revulsion at how the opposition CCC has been unfairly and cruelly mistreated by the powerful ruling ZANU PF regime, in a case of clear bullying.

Therefore, the numbers of people attending campaign rallies could mean different outcomes and scenarios for the two main contenders – as the ruling party could be in for a shock, especially in traditional opposition urban strongholds, where their “thousands” of attendees could be misleading.

© Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and social commentator. Please feel free to contact him on WhatsApp/Call: +263715667700 / +263782283975, or Calls Only: +263788897936 / +263733399640, or email: [email protected]

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