By Robert Tapfumaneyi
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF party has been sucked into a vote buying storm, after a letter in which Health Minister Obadiah Moyo agreed to restock clinics in Lupane East constituency ahead of a by-election was leaked.
Moyo was responding to a request by the ruling party’s national commissar and Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veterans Association (ZNLWVA) secretary general, Victor Matemadanda for medicines specifically for the constituency.
“Your letter of the 2nd July 2019 requesting for medicines for Lupaka, Gomoza, St Pauls, Lake Alice, Lusulu and Lupanda clinics refers,” Moyo wrote in the July 5th letter.
Moyo added that he had given instructions to officials at State owned National Pharmaceuticals (Natpharm) to make the drugs available for the identified clinics.
“I have instructed the Permanent Secretary Dr Mahomva to activate NatPharm to supply the clinics mentioned with medicines,” the Health Minister said.
The letter is also addressed to NatPharm managing director Flora Sifeku and director pharmacy services identified as Mrs R Hove.
Matemadanda doubles up as Deputy Minister of Defence. Zimbabwe’s health delivery system has been reeling under the weight of crippling drug shortages.
The by-election is set to be held on the 3rd August. The seat fell vacant following the death of ruling party MP Sithembile Gumbo in April due to injuries sustained in a road traffic accident.
For years, the MDC has cried foul accusing Zanu PF of abusing State resources for political gain.
The ruling party has rejected the claims but observer groups to the country’s general elections last year also raised red flags around vote buying accusing Mnangagwa of using his position as incumbent to get an unfair advantage.
Nine candidates are vying for the seat after they successfully submitted their papers.
MDC director of elections Jacob Mafume reacted angrily to the developments accusing the ruling party of violating the country’s electoral code of conduct.
“This is brazen vote buying. This is abuse of state resources for partisan purposes.
“This is wrong on many levels. It is unbelievable that the impunity is such that they can write it on letters, this is not a new dispensation but the worst dispensation,” said Mafume.
Labour Economics and African Democrats leader Linda Masarira said the drugs must be availed to all while the National Constitutional Assembly spokesperson Madock Chivasa said the distribution of drugs should not be confined to Lupane East.
Candidates contesting the by-election are Mbongeni Dube (Zanu-PF), Morgen Ndlovu (LEAD), Given Ncube (MDC-T), Dalumuzi Khumalo (MDC-Alliance), Nelson Mkandla (National Action Party), Andrew Tshaba (Mthwakazi Republic Party), Njabulo Sibanda (National Patriotic Front), Gezekile Mkhwebu (Zapu) and Alice Sibanda (National Constitutional Assembly).