Thursday, January 13, 2005

Mugabe's attempts to buy off rural electorate under threat

Attempts by Zimbabwe's ruling party to buy off the rural electorate is being threatened by a row over pay, according to the country's Financial Gazette.

ZANU PF, which is banking on chiefs to deliver the crucial rural vote in the March general election, could be in for a rude awakening as some headmen, who are considered as chiefs by their people but are a rung below, are disgruntled by the huge gap between their allowances and those of the top traditional leaders.

Robert Mugabe's party uses money to buy off influential rural leaders, which is perhaps why ZANU's main support is in the countryside and has little support in urban areas. Chiefs are paid a monthly allowance of $1 million [Zimbabwean or nearly US$182] and have been promised Mazda B18000 trucks, electricity and potable water at their homesteads. Headmen are paid an allowance of $400 000 [US$73].

Furthermore, the party gave chiefs astonishing authority to ensure appropriate "loyalty." ZANU PF has given chiefs more powers in the run-up to the election, allowing them to fine people up to $100 million [US$18,200]. The party also used them to distribute seed to the people, a move aimed at ensuring that come elections, it would be pay back time.

Such is life in Paradise Zimbabwe.

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