Zanu PF, MDC’s ambitious poll targets a potential trigger for violent campaign – report
By Nkosana Dlamini
The Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) has warned Zanu PF and MDC’s ambitious poll targets for the 2023 elections could ignite a violent electoral period as the two major parties tussle for voters.
Zanu PF has set its targets to garnering five million voters coupled with a minimum 65 percent national vote while MDC Alliance is pushing for six million.
Both rivals have set their election machinery in motion with MDC Alliance launching its mass rural mobilisation strategy in May this year.
The main opposition is eyeing three million votes in Zanu PF’s rural strongholds.
Party secretary for rural mobilisation and strategy, Happymore Chidziva has been quoted in the local press as saying the MDC Alliance was “meeting opinion leaders, interfacing with them discussing change.”
But ZPP has moved to warn of some dire experiences should the bitter rivals proceed with their attempts to stretch the voting margins.
Said the peace-based group, “In the previous elections, both Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance attained less than three million votes each, so by targeting to have five million votes, this is a huge feat, and what is being witnessed in the communities shows the extent to which the parties are prepared to go to achieve this.
“In the history of Zimbabwean elections, the highest number of people who voted was in 2018 when a total 4.8 million people cast their ballots.
“So, the five million Zanu PF target and the MDC Alliance six million target add up to 11 million people, and Zimbabwe’s population is 14 million people, about seven million of which are adults.
“The ambition by the two main political parties can only point to an explosive electoral campaign period.”
ZPP warned “the tussle for the rural vote is likely to have a huge impact on the human rights situation in the country. This is because there is a likelihood of an increase in inter-party violence.”
ZPP called for strengthening of electoral reforms that enable a level playing field ahead of 2023.
Since the turn of the century, Zimbabwean polls have experienced recurrent violence with opposition supporters often bearing the brunt of state sponsored violence.