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THE opposition is making a determined push for rural votes ahead of the fast approaching 2023 harmonised elections — triggering an atypical but titanic turf war with Zanu PF which has always dominated the countryside.

This has seen the MDC Alliance recently deploying its heavyweights to “gettable” rural constituencies to mobilise communities — as the opposition bids to finally end Zanu PF’s decades-long supremacy there.

Alliance secretary for rural strategy and mobilisation, Happymore Chidziva, told the Daily News yesterday that their ongoing efforts in this regard — which have seen them visiting Mhondoro, Chiredzi, Chipinge and other parts of the country — were geared towards growing their rural support base.

“The rural strategies and mobilisation department aims to increase party visibility in the rural areas through building a robust rural support base.

“The MDC Alliance is fully aware of the damaging effects of political violence and rural poverty and is focused on fighting for violence-free communities in which the freedom to associate with a political party of one’s choice is respected.

“The party is geared to win all rural district council seats to transform rural governance, as Zanu PF is abusing food aid for political expediency and failing to bring meaningful development,” Chidziva said.

He added that his party was also making sure to visit vulnerable members of communities, especially child-headed families or those with adopted orphans and the elderly.

“The MDC Alliance is concerned by the absence of a competent government social welfare programme in communities.

“The Social Welfare ministry has neglected its duty to afford orphaned children their inalienable right to education, as most of the orphans have dropped out of school due to poverty.

“The Social Welfare ministry has failed to provide social safety nets to vulnerable elderly members in areas like Mhondoro … whose plight has been worsened by the effects of the coronavirus pandemic,” Chidziva said.

“The MDC Alliance is also extremely concerned that the continued use of violence against its party members is not only depriving victims an opportunity to freely and meaningfully participate in politics, but also destroying livelihoods and undermining peace in rural communities.

“The MDC Alliance is also concerned with the welfare of survivors of political violence and … the need to build a new political culture of peace and tolerance,” he added.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF secretary for administration Obert Mpofu says the ruling party is recruiting more members in rural areas — as it embarks on a programme to have five million members ahead of the 2023 elections.

“Zanu PF is always with the people. We are always mobilising and you have seen the coming of new members from other parties. We wish them (MDC Alliance) good luck.

“They know that they are up against a formidable party. We are a democratic party and so we allow them to do what they want to do in accordance with the country’s laws.

“Rural areas have been a stronghold of the party and we are just sprucing up things without having to worry much about the activity of the opposition. We are also targeting urban areas,” Mpofu told the Daily News.

He also said that Zanu PF had carried out a lot of developmental projects in the country, which is why it was not surprising that it was the biggest party in the country.

“We have embarked on infrastructure development and in doing so many people are being employed,” Mpofu said.

This comes as the opposition has been accusing Zanu PF of intimidating and bribing supporters using State resources.

At the same time, political analysts have warned that the closing of ranks by Zanu PF factions spells even greater trouble for the country’s brawling opposition ahead of the 2023 national elections.

Speaking to the Daily News recently, Mpofu said the unconditional re-admission of the vanquished members of Zanu PF’s Generation 40 (G40) faction and others had the full backing of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The G40s, many of whom had sought to be re-admitted in the ruling party, were purged in the aftermath of the spectacular fall from power of the late former president Robert Mugabe in November 2017, following a widely supported military coup.

At the height of the ruling party’s factional, tribal and succession wars, G40 members aligned themselves to Mugabe and his erratic wife Grace — while the Lacoste faction backed Mnangagwa who was then vice president. – Daily News