Minister Zhemu Soda Accused of Vote Buying As Zanu PF Factional Wars Rage

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By Staff Reporter

BARELY a week after the Zanu PF politburo issued an injunction barring its members from engaging in premature election campaigns, Energy and Power Development minister Zhemu Soda, has been caught up in a vote buying storm after he gathered hundreds of villagers in Muzarabani and dished out grocery humpers.

Soda, who is the Muzarabani DCC chair, is rooting for his cabinet colleague, Home Affairs minister Kazembe Kazembe who is facing stiff competition in his bid to retain the provincial chairmanship.

Soda has also been in the news for the wrong reasons after he allegedly moved around the province instructing people not to mention the name of current provincial women’s league chair, Tsitsi Gezi – who is also the deputy speaker of the National Assembly.

Former Education minister Lazarus Dokora has emerged as the hot favourite to land the highly influential position. Tycoon James Makamba and former MP Christopher Chitindi are the other two top contenders.

Soda on Saturday allegedly dished out food hampers to branch chairpersons and traditional leaders at Muzarabani Hall.

“The hampers had cooking oil, sugar, two coffee mugs and salt. This is vote buying ahead of the provincial elections,” a Zanu PF member, who declined to be named, said.

“Soda was supported by Kazembe during his campaign to be DCC (district development committee) chairperson for Muzarabani. Kazembe used his influence as the provincial chairperson to mobilise support for Soda, who is now paying back by supporting the provincial chairman to retain his position. What the ministers ae doing is tantamount to vote buying.”

Soda is alleged to be trying to block the deputy speaker of Gezi from retaining her position as provincial chairlady because she is believed to be a Dokora ally.

Soda however denied the allegations saying: “That is not true. Hampers were given at a women’s league meeting which was addressed by Mai Gezi on Saturday.”

Gezi confirmed the meeting which she said was for women’s league members, from politburo to the grassroots, where they were launching a goat rearing project.

“They were bought by Hon Soda,” she said. “They food hampers were distributed to all the district women’s league structures.”

Asked to comment on allegations of vote buying, she said: “I don’t know the reason why Hon Soda bought the hampers, so I cannot comment on that.”

On allegations that she was being blocked by Soda from retaining her position, she said: “I was there as the women’s league provincial chair.”