Zimbabwe-President Robert Mugabe’s $20 million farming inputs scheme is likely to trigger a fresh wave of political violence as the inputs are only benefiting Zanu PF supporters, a leading human rights watchdog, the Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP), has said.
In its latest report released over the weekend, the Jestina Mukoko-led ZPP said Zanu PF had anchored its campaign on free food and seed handouts in addition to use of State-sponsored violence as it gears for harmonised elections expected early next year.
The ZPP expressed concern that the partisan distribution of inputs under the scheme could set the tone for political intolerance and set the stage for a bloody campaign.
Part of the report reads: “The Presidential inputs scheme debacle may well have set the tone for the 2013 electoral campaign period with vote-buying emerging as one cornerstone of Zanu PF’s electoral strategy.
“Most cases of harassment, intimidation and discrimination recorded in November are linked to the distribution of seed packs in the Presidential Agricultural Inputs Scheme.
“The people who are suspected to belong to parties other than Zanu PF were denied the seeds and fertiliser which were emblazoned with a portrait of the Zanu PF leader. The perpetrators are local leaders in Zanu PF who argue that the seed packs were donated by their party president so they cannot give it to opponents of their party.
“Zanu PF started distributing maize seed and fertilisers under the guise of the Presidential Inputs Scheme to mostly card- carrying members of the liberation party and in exceptions to everyone present,” read the ZPP report in part.
Soldiers and known Zanu PF members were involved in the distribution process.
“A senior army official (name given) attached to the National Food Security (formerly Maguta) allegedly threatened villagers with violence if they do not vote for Zanu PF in the upcoming elections. During the meeting that was held on November 13 at Chivi growth point, the official declared that only known Zanu PF activists would get agricultural inputs under the Presidential inputs scheme.
“Almost in all of the country’s 210 constituencies there was distribution of maize seed packs and in some cases fertiliser. The distributed packets had stickers with the image of the President,” read the report.