THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has justified its perennial poor electoral performance in rural areas across the country, accusing Zanu PF of using State resources, particularly food aid to manipulate rural voters.
The MDC performed badly at the weekend where its candidate, Derick Charamba, was thumped by the Zanu PF candidate Clemence Chiduwa in the Zaka East parliamentary by-election, with the ruling party candidate garnering 7 119 votes against the MDC’s paltry 1 518.
Zaka East was forced into a by-election after the death of Caston Gumbwanda (Zanu PF) in June this year.
Zanu PF also clinched the Lupane by-election in August, as well as two council by-elections, but lost the urban Glen View seat to the MDC, continuing with its dominance in rural constituencies that have formed the backbone of its rule since independence.
With the economic hardships the country is facing under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, observers had hoped the MDC would turn the heat on the ruling party and grab anything on offer.
The poor electoral show by the opposition party has left many questions on its ability to turn the tables on Zanu PF in the 2023 elections.
But MDC secretary for elections Jacob Mafume said the party was planning to roll out educational programmes before the 2023 polls to educate rural voters so that they avoid being manipulated by Zanu PF.
He said it was the manipulation of the rural people by the Zanu PF-led government that was creating such voting patterns.
“They (rural voters) are under siege economically, the headmen are chief whips of Zanu PF and the villages are being threatened that if they vote for the opposition, the will be denied food handouts,” Mafume said.
“There is no food in the rural areas, no money, the people rely on government and donor handouts which they are made to believe are coming from Zanu PF.”
Mafume said the opposition party has identified the manipulation patterns and will educate the rural folk, create alternatives, delink State process from political party processes and come 2023, the opposition will be able to reverse the voting patterns.
On allegations that the opposition was losing because it had no strong grassroots structures, Mafume said: “Zanu PF is not using any structure, but was using government institutions such as the police, District Development Fund to manipulate the rural people.
“Even the Zanu PF structures are hungry, and have no money, they have to rely on the government on social welfare.”