Is Mugabe’s 2013 campaign different?

Yes it is, says British-based Zimbabwean academic and author Blessing-Miles Tendi in the Guardian after attending President Robert Mugabe’s first rally at Chiweshe in one of the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front strongholds, Mashonaland Central.

“Thursday’s rally in Mashonaland Central Province offered a show of strength from Mugabe and his Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front party, as a crowd of up to 20 000 people, clad in green and yellow party regalia, thronged Chiweshe.

“This election will be about which party is best able to mobilise its core constituencies to turn out en masse to vote on 31 July, and ZANU-PF’s provincial leadership was visibly buoyed by the turnout.

“The party’s campaign in the 2008 election was limp, and primary elections earlier this year faced a number of logistical and funding problems. But the Chiweshe rally indicated that Mugabe and his party will roll out a slick and well-funded election campaign this time,” Tendi wrote.

Tendi, who is the author of Making History in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, says in his book the Movement for Democratic Change, which has played victim to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front throughout its 14-year history, is a violent party itself and this was one of the reasons why the party split in 2005.

The book which is highly critical of ZANU-PF and the way it has used violence to gain support especially after the 2000 referendum, quotes Welshman Ncube, former secretary-general of the MDC before the split, as saying:“From the beginning there were those who believed that it is at times justified to use violence against ZANU-PF because ZANU-PF is violent. That is how the violence started. These people are now the same people that are in the mafia kitchen cabinet.

“They used militia groups to open up ZANU-PF militia controlled areas in 2000 and 2002. Those of us opposed to violence tried to manage these issues internally. Sometimes we did not even know about the extent of the violence. Gandhi Mudzingwa and Denis Murire went for training in Serbia on how to do mass action. I was the secretary general and did not even know about this but Tsvangirai did.”

In his story in the Guardian today, Tendi sounded more like a public relations officer for ZANU-PF but also disclosed something hitherto unknown.

He says a member of Mugabe’s inner circle told him: “Our election campaign war chest was ready as early as January. The president took charge of it. Many senior party members had no idea about the amount of resources and material that had already been put together.”

But Tendi’s stance might be excused. He wrote in the Guardian, way back in January a story entitled: Zimbabwe elections: Why Robert Mugabe may win. The tagline was that voter apathy and a growing disaffection towards Morgan Tsvangirai will put the MDC at a disadvantage in the polls.



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