The view of Harare from my room at the Rainbow Towers Hotel. The tall building to right (about 300 m away) is the headquarters of the ruling party, Zanu PF.
The Anti-Corruption Trust of Southern Africa (ACTSA), in a damning report, said party bigwigs, especially in Kwekwe, are dangling gold mines and vehicles to the electorate.
“Vote buying is rampant,” reads part of ACTSA report released last week.
“In Kwekwe, the campaigns have kicked off … as the electorate is flooded with free food, paid rentals and access to gold mines (the case of Gaika Mine),” added the report.
In March, Zanu PF politicians seized a foreign owned gold mine and allowed party youths access into the property in what was seen as a vote buying gimmick.
Gaika Mine is owned by Jersey-based and privately owned Duration Gold. The seizure of the company was reportedly facilitated by a known party MP and is understood to have the backing of senior Zanu Pf officials from the province.
This not the first time that Zanu PF has given gold panners free reign in the gold-rich city and its environs just before general elections.
Ahead of the 2013 polls, hundreds of panners were bussed to Sherwood goldfields with senior Zanu PF officials reportedly getting 10 percent of the revenue.
“Suspiciously, the campaigning period has also coincided with the invasion of Gaika Mine in Kwekwe. This has been perceived as a vote buying gimmick,” said the report.
The report also fingered aspiring Kwekwe Central Legislator Archbishop Kandros Mugabe.
The cleric, who is a property mogul and gold magnet, has been accused of using his financial muscle to manipulate the electorate.
“A prominent miner vying for the Kwekwe Central parliamentary seat has bought several vehicles for local party chairperson,” the report reads.
“Several tenants renting houses from the Globe and Phoenix Mine were told that their rentals will be paid for by the aspiring candidate,” ACTSA said.
Mugabe himself, addressing party supporters Thursday celebrating his nomination to stand in the parliamentary elections, said he has so far spent $20 000 on rentals.
The reason, Mugabe said, is to secure poll victory for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
“This is not vote buying; but it is to secure President Mnangagwa’s victory. If I don’t pay rentals they will be kicked out of their houses and we will lose votes,’ said Mugabe.
“This is not a vote buying gimmick. What I am doing is beyond parliament because I won’t be getting what I have spent so far. I am doing this for the development of the city,” he said.
He has so far poured over $100 000 on projects in Kwekwe.
Mugabe is, however, facing stiff resistance from other Zanu PF aspiring candidates who have since written to the party directorate in Harare that the cleric is bussing people from Redcliff to vote for him.
Meanwhile, Local Government Minister July Moyo, who is eyeing Redcliff constituency, has started to make church visitations where he is making various donations.
ACTSA Director Obert Chinhamo has since slammed the practice.
“Call it aid, indigenization initiative or whatever. It is still vote buying when you are doing it to seek favors in an election.”