MUTOKO by-election: MDC accuses Zanu PF of vote buying

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By Idah Mhetu

ZANU PF Mutoko North by-election candidate Rumbidzai Nyabote is reportedly promising to roll out agricultural inputs in the drought-prone district, in a move widely seen as a vote-buying gimmick.

The allegation was made by opposition MDC rival Boniface Mushore during the party’s recent rally in Marondera.

Mutoko North constituency fell vacant following the promotion of the Mabel Chinomona to of Senate President. The elections are set for November 24.

“Zanu PF is promising people the donor funded agricultural inputs so that they vote for the party candidate,” said Mushore.

“These inputs are meant to be for every citizen and not for Zanu PF. The same thing happened during the July 30 elections when I contested against Mabel Chinomona, that’s how I lost to Chinomona,” he said.

MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume added; “The party is concerned with the Mutoko by-election as it appears Zanu PF has not stopped its ways of buying votes, they are now distributing maize and fertilisers to the voters.”

He accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) of ignoring the outrage, adding that vote buying was also rampant during the disputed July 30 general elections.

“The observer missions, European Union (EU), International Republican Institute (IRI) and the Commonwealth observer missions have noted the level of vote buying which ZEC allows unabated, it is the reason why our elections were not free and fair.”

The Mutoko North vote becomes the first by-election after the bitterly disputed July 30 poll which was one by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party.

The MDC has refused to accept the outcome of that crunch ballot, accusing ZEC of manipulating the results in favour of Mnangagwa.

The opposition party says the by-election is a key test for ZEC.

“We need to see a big difference between general elections and by-elections and this will be a test for ZEC to see if they are going to improve on what several local and international observers Election Reports noted in the just ended election,” said Mafume in an earlier interview.

In the July 30 elections, Chinomona won the constituency for Zanu PF with 16, 902 votes against 3,151 for the MDC’s Mushore.