Grassroot and diaspora contributions have helped the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party make inroads in its campaign ahead of the by-elections in Insiza and Matobo, CITE has learnt.
The by-elections for Wards 2 Insiza and 4 Matobo will be held on 22 October with CCC hoping to replicate its recent success in the Bulilima by-elections where the opposition won two of the three vacant seats.
Kucaca Phulu, Nkulumane Member of Parliament, who has been deployed to Matobo to campaign for CCC, acknowledged the importance of contributions from well-wishers, primarily those living abroad, in helping the party carry out its ground operations.
“These contributions are a good starting point and as a testimony, these contributions have assisted in encouraging people to register,” he said during a Twitter spaces discussion hosted by CCC members based in the diaspora Monday evening on the by-election’s preparations for Insiza and Matobo.
“I have been deployed in Matobo and being on the ground we get a lot of assistance from people. This past weekend on Saturday, we had a good lunch from a local who slaughtered four chickens. We have gone to different places and the reception has been so warm as we do the campaign work.”
While emphasizing the need for resources during elections, Phulu said CCC recognised the work accomplished by campaign teams through contributions.
“As an individual and leader, we are missing out on quite a lot on the development of the country because we are failing to harvest ideas and contribution of the diaspora and these by-elections are highlighting that,” he said.
“Well-wishers might not see it, or think they are just contributing money but certainly are making a powerful point that the Zimbabwean community, ideas and future and shape of our destiny, should be influenced or coloured by the contributions of our diaspora.”
The legislator noted that resources aided a political party’s visibility, as people in rural areas needed regalia and pamphlets.
“In Matobo we had quite a number of fliers with local issues, thanks to such platforms. People need visibility and to see their leaders on the ground, especially where there is intimidation and a lot of political play,” Phulu said.
“Remember some people like Graydon Phiri were arrested (in Sun Yat Sen) and tear gas was also fired at Legion Mine. But when people see party leaders returning to the ground without having run away and appearing in their homes with confidence it also inspires confidence to continue with their work.”
Phulu acknowledged that the CCC would not have reached far without such donations from well-wishers, therefore it would “definitely take the problem of the diaspora vote and engagement in local matters very seriously.”
“As a party, CCC is going to have a unique people-based philosophy that recognises diaspora not only in terms of mimicking, mouthing or window dressing,” he said.
Ilos Nyoni, a member of parliament for Bulawayo East who was also stationed in Matobo for campaign purposes, concurred that CCC’s visibility was crucial.
Until election day, he stated, “CCC must be seen on the ground and must be there virtually every day.”
“The victory in Bulilima inspired us, and we look forward to victories in Insiza and Matobo.”
Campaign workers needed to reassure rural voters that their vote was private, according to Nyoni.
“People are worried about being watched by Zanu PF, but we urge them to go vote and cast their ballots without hesitation,” claiming that Zanu PF was lying to the populace in Ward 16 Bulilima about their ability to see who they had voted for.
“In resettlement areas, people were also afraid that they would be evicted from their homes if they voted for CCC. We tried to dispel such and assured them nothing will happen by voting for CCC.”
However, the lawmaker cautioned that the ruling party might use force in certain wards where by-elections will be held.
“Having lost two wards in Bulilima, there might be an increase in violence and intimidation. This must be highlighted to the whole world that the ruling party uses violent means to campaign. Zanu also does vote buying because a few days before voting in Bulilima, a cow was slaughtered and beer was bought. People were called to come and feast by Zanu PF, which claimed it was celebrating a win in advance,” Nyoni said.
“Our message to people is you can go there to feast but come elections, go vote for us because no one will see where you cast your vote.”