Civic society organisations in Bulawayo have called for a ban on food aid and farming inputs distribution by political parties during the campaign period to curb incidents of vote-buying.
The call came in the wake of a recent report by the Zimbabwe Peace Project which revealed that there were 71 rights violation cases with most cases centred around politicisation of government-sourced food aid recorded between July 1 and 13.
Habakkuk Trust director, Dumisani Nkomo, yesterday said vote buying skewed the electoral process in favour of political parties with a financial muscle and access to State resources.
“There must be redress mechanisms at local level through the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission and distribution of food and inputs must be banned after proclamation of election date is done,” Nkomo said.
Ibhetshu LikaZulu secretary-general Mbuso Fuzwayo said it was unfortunate that Zanu PF was using State resources in its campaigns and made it appear as if the aid was from the party.
“It is unfortunate that all the aid Zanu PF makes will give the impression that it’s from the party, not government. It is abusing State resources,” Fuzwayo said.
#ThisConstitution leader Abigail Mupambi described vote-buying as one of the most lethal electoral malpractices and it was wrong to use the distribution of food aid or agricultural inputs to campaign.
“To be frank, the ruling party is misbehaving. Government inputs are never party inputs. While giving out farming inputs by government is not wrong, it is politically wrong to use that as a campaign tool for a single political party, particularly a few days before the polls. It is a clear vote-buying strategy,” Mupambi said.
She said the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) was too embedded in Zanu PF to effectively monitor abuses by the ruling party in the run-up to the elections.
“Only a neutral referee can stop such things. It’s unfortunate that in the Zimbabwean situation the referee, Zec, seems to have a soft marriage with the ruling party who are the perpetrators of this. It’s a dilemma for Zimbabwean elections, she said.
Although over 20 political parties pledged to work against violence and to uphold good election conduct in June this year, there have been several violations in the run-up to the elections.
The peace pledge is a code of conduct that commits presidential candidates and their parties to campaign peacefully and encourages tolerance among the different political parties.
Government is currently embarking on command agriculture, command fishery and command live stock in which President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently dished out thousands of cattle to farmers in Matabeleland North and South provinces. This is done during his campaign period ahead of the July 30 elections, hence concerns by civic groups that he is using resources funded by the taxpayers’ money to campaign for his presidency.