By Nyashadzashe Ndoro
The main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa is concerned about the victimisation and marginalisation of rural communities by the ruling Zanu PF party which is using food and agriculture inputs to buy votes during election times.
In a statement seen by Nehanda Radio, Chamisa’s spokesman Dr Nkululeko Sibanda accused Zanu PF of influencing some media houses to distort the recent message by the MDC leader.
Chamisa had claimed that the ruling party forced the rural communities to vote with their stomachs, making it difficult for MDC councillors to be elected due to their little or no control of rural societies.
“This is totally criminal. You can’t be taking clips and giving them a new meaning. What President Chamisa has said is the correct position from what the people are saying to him and as a matter of scientific fact. Off year elections are not a barometer of anything,” Sibanda on Twitter.
Sibanda confirmed the need for electoral reforms in the rural communities and blamed Zanu PF for victimising citizens when they vote for opposition councillors.
“Point of Clarification on By Elections Mischaracterisation by a Media House
“Some media houses, under Zanu PF inspiration have sought to mis-characterise President Chamisa’s recent statement. We do not expect such incompetence from media professionals.
“In response to a question about MDC’s performance in by elections and what the people in rural areas are saying, President Chamisa shared what people in the rural constituencies were saying to the MDC leadership.
“The President states that people in rural areas, in the absence of electoral reforms, are concerned about voting for objectively in by elections based on two core considerations,” Sibanda said.
Sibanda said the following things were discovered by Chamisa during his consultative meetings across the country in the past few weeks.
“1: A vote other than for Zanu PF will see citizens being victimised and living in fear.
“2: Citizens will be punished by denial of food and farming inputs. This is so in the absence of security of the voter and security of the vote in most rural constituencies,” Chamisa said.
Chamisa had claimed that citizens in rural constituencies were finding it difficult to vote for a councillor in a by election under such circumstances because it exposes them to abuse and harassment and the councillor has limited influence under those circumstances to effect change.
After Zanu PF won the Mwenezi by-election early this month, MDC secretary for elections, Jacob Mafume re-iterated the same accusation that ZANU PF uses food to manipulate rural voters.
“This tells you that it is not possible to have a proper election even in Harare. People were called to come and collect rice on the day of voting, Zanu PF was drilling a borehole a few metres from the polling station. These are not elections. It is manipulation of people’s poverty. Weaponising poverty and food and it is the biggest challenge that we have,” Mafume said. Nehanda Radio