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Zanu-PF won Harare from MDC
Mail and Guardian (SA)
August 08, 2013
the people's hunger for land to win support in key constituencies
formerly held by the opposition MDC. Zanu-PF's long-term strategy
to win back support it had lost in Harare has paid dividends.
Zanu-PF's surprise win
of six seats in Harare, previously a stronghold for Morgan Tsvangirai's
Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), came after years of a carefully
planned campaign to dilute support for the opposition in key constituencies
in the capital.
According to senior Zanu-PF
officials, the party had specifically targeted seats held by senior
officials of the MDC-T, calculating that this would destabilise
Tsvangirai's party elsewhere.
The party targeted and
won Harare North, previously held by Theresa Makone, a close ally
and family friend of Tsvangirai, and Mt Pleasant, previously held
by Jameson Timba, Tsvangirai's chief of international relations.
Zanu-PF also won in Mbare,
the city's biggest township, and in Epworth. However, it did not
manage to prise MDC-T secretary general Tendai Biti from his seat
in Harare East.
Zanu-PF used Zimbabweans'
hunger for land to parcel out pieces of property, clawing its way
into the urban constituencies that had rejected it in previous polls.
"We identified a
need that we could realistically deliver on, and we ran with it,"
a member of Zanu-PF's elections directorate, who did not wish to
be named, told the Mail & Guardian this week. "There were
particular seats we targeted four years ago for strategic reasons,
which we set out to win. We got most of them."
The party's elections
directorate was headed by Zanu-PF chairperson Simon Khaya Moyo and
was run by Henry Muchena, a former air force officer, and Sydney
Nyanungo, a former intelligence chief.
Zanu-PF had won just
one seat in Harare in 2008, Harare South, after gaining support
by handing out parcels of land to poor squatters on the edge of
the city. Encouraged by that success, it reprised the strategy in
several more constituencies on the city fringes, winning an extra
five seats last week.
The party first devised
its "comeback strategy" – as one official put it
– in 2009. Between 2010 and 2011, the party began a "firm
drive to register our people in these areas, and making plans to
make sure each one of them, come voting day, would be at a polling
In Harare North, Zanu-PF
set up the Harare North Housing Union. In the shadows of the mansions
of Borrowdale, one of Harare's wealthiest suburbs that also forms
part of the constituency, Zanu-PF campaigners began work to dilute
the MDC-T's support in the richer parts of the area.
Zanu-PF's plan may have
been helped by apathy in some constituencies, where the MDC-T's
votes either remained almost unchanged – as in Mt Pleasant
– or decreased.
The co-operative doled
out stands measuring 300m2 each, with settlers required to pay $55
a month each towards the stands.
The party ignored warnings
from the city council that the settlements in Harare North were
illegal and a hazard to public health.
At one stage, Portia
Manangazira, disease control officer in the ministry of health,
warned that the settlements were contributing to outbreaks of typhoid
in parts of Harare.
"According to the
Public Health Act, tap water is the only acceptable source of drinking
water in urban areas," she said.
However, the warnings
were ignored as the co-operatives had the backing of the party itself.
There is no running water
in Harare North, but this did not deter 33-year-old Tongesai Mudambo
from winning votes for President Robert Mugabe's party.
Mudambo, a beneficiary
of the Zanu-PF housing scheme himself, chose to stand for the party
in the constituency, sank boreholes for the squatters and supplied
water tankers with the backing of the party.
"This is where I
stay and hope to continue to stay," Mudambo said on the eve
of the polls.
Last week he was declared
the winner of the constituency.
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