BY BRENNA MATENDERE/PATRICIA SIBANDA
OPPOSITION MDC’s structures in the Midlands province have resolved to start preparations for the harmonised elections constitutionally set for 2023 with the view of wresting rural seats from the ruling Zanu PF
MDC Midlands provincial spokesperson Takavafira Zhou told Sunday Southern Eye that the party’s main objective was to grab all 28 constituencies in the province.
In the July 2018 polls, the MDC won only four parliamentary seats in the Midlands, which are Mbizo, Redcliff, Mkoba and Gweru Urban while Zanu PF took the lion’s share of 24.
“The majority of the 28 constituencies are rural and in preparation for the 2023 elections, the province would roll out outreach programmes starting this month into rural district constituencies,” he said.
“The strategy involves inter alia: Revitalising branch leadership and structures in order to foster supremacy of branches.
Zhou said one of the reasons why people in rural areas have been snubbing the MDC in elections is fear caused by intimidation by State apparatus and Zanu PF activists.
“We will be taking stock of victims of recent violence particularly in Gokwe, Kwekwe and Mberengwa, and identifying the culprits, and police accomplices with the intention to name and shame them, let alone consider litigation against such thuggery,” he added.
“We have had cases of thuggery that saw our provincial youth leader (Sekai Marasha) assaulted in Kwekwe, while Prince Paradza was assaulted in Gokwe and lost three teeth in the process, while many other activists suffered abductions, attempted abductions and assaults.”
Zhou said the MDC will also tackle partisan food aid distribution where its supporters in rural areas have been allegedly denied access to drought relief, a development he said cost the opposition party votes in past elections.
“The MDC Midlands province would also compile evidence of partisan distribution of inputs in rural areas of Midlands and deliberate discrimination of MDC activists from State food assistance and agricultural inputs,” he added.
“The intention will be to challenge this through Parliament and ensure fair distribution of government food aid and inputs in a non-partisan manner.
“If need be, we could also build a critical force to peacefully demonstrate against partisan food and input distribution in rural areas.”
As part of the 2023 elections preparations, Zhou said the MDC would also initiate self-help projects for villagers in order to sway them out of “politics of the stomach”.
“The leadership would also engage grassroots structures in order to identify low cost programmes that can be done in rural areas to benefit party members,” he added.
“Leadership is, therefore, ready to grow the party in the rural areas and thus make inroads in Zanu PF-dominated areas, and at the same time take stock of challenges faced in both rural and urban areas so as to proffer alternative solutions,” he said.