Mugabe Announces a US$10 Million Vote-Buying Spree
A delighted Robert Mugabe arrives at State House earlier today for the swearing-in of John Nkomo as Zimbabwe's 2nd Vice-president. Nkomo was sworn in to replace the late Vice President Msika. Mugabe yesterday announced one of his most ambitious vote-buying projects, saying his party will spend 10 million this month and early in January to distribute thousands of tonnes of seed and fertiliser to farmers all over Zimbabwe. "This is a purely ZANU PF project", he said.
Harare, Zimbabwe, 14 December 2009
After lambasting Tendai Biti for "sabotaging" agriculture in Zimbabwe, Robert "The Solution" Mugabe has now unveiled a US$10 million agriculture aid facility, designed to be a massive vote-buying exercise targeted at new and Communal farmers.
Mugabe says he is targeting 190 000, which translates to about 900 000 voters. They will be given free fertiliser and maize seed. And they are sure to be told that this is coming from Mugabe and ZANU PF and that the MDC and Tendai Biti had abandoned them and left them to swing in the wind.
If anyone is any doubt about this, they just need to hear what Mugabe had to say about the whole programme as he launched it:
“There are some characters within the inclusive Government who are trying to torpedo the agriculture season. They are trying to make the season a total disaster.
“Our economy runs on agriculture and as Zanu-PF we have come up with such a scheme that will help our farmers.
“The season is well underway, but we believe that this scheme will go a long way in assisting the farmers,” he said.
Those "characters" he spoke about are Tendai Biti and the MDC. He is absolutely convinced that the MDC is continuing its strategy of bringing the economy to its knees in order to disadvantage Mugabe at the next elections.
The country will hear about this. And, if you have moved around in the rural areas trying to talk to people as I have, you will be surprised at the gullibility of our people. Can you believe that, to this day, there are people (lots of them), who will faithfully tell you that "Morgan Tsvangirai wants to return this country to white people so that they rule us again."
This is what Mugabe has told them and they believe it. Things such as the appointment of Roy Bennett to the Agricultural Ministry only reinforce that belief.
Mugabe was also careful to tell his listeners that this was "a solely ZANU PF project, in conjucntion with well-wishers". The well-wishers were not named or identified. Diamonds, anyone?
The common perception in Zimbabwe today is that ZANU PF "is broke" and that the MDC-T is flush with cash. As I have pointed out before, this is wishful thinking and it suits Mugabe very well. The last time we checked, ZANU PF was sitting on a US$300 million war-chest. This is exclusively reserved for elections. Mugabe even refused to authorise disbursement of funds from this war-chest for the ZANU PF Congress because he believes that the next elections will be do or die for ZANU PF.
His intention is to so completely overwhelm and outspend the opposition parties that he gets back into power as a virtual one-party regime as was the case before 1999.
Coupled with the violent nature of ZANU PF campaigns, the next election is not going to be a walk in the park at all for opposition parties. If anything, we are going to see massive campaigns, phased from an introductory stage to a "final push" scenario. US$300 million can print a lot of posters and flight a lot of adverts.
It may surprise some people to learn this, but ZANU PF does not get its adverts into The Herald and on ZBC for free. They have to pay. The State media sings for its supper by allowing unfettered editorial access to the party, campaign for them within the editorial pages, but on the commercial side, the party has to behave like any other. So they need that money.
Mugabe's party has also started using the independent media in Zimbabwe, as was seen in the last election (2008) when they booked and paid for adverts in The Independent, The Financial Gazette and other independent newspapers.
But, to get back to this vote-buying scheme: it shows you just how determined Mugabe is to continue in power. He has not, as has been suggested by MDC supporters, given up and readying himself to retire. No sir! He will be the candidate in the next election and he has every intention of winning and perhaps then, and only then, will he think of handing over the reigns to a successor.