Bulawayo — Zanu PF Bulawayo province has started drumming the support of residents, students and church members in its bid to mobilise 80 000 people to vote for the party in this year's general elections.
The party's provincial chairperson, Killion Sibanda said Zanu PF was forming a "unity pact" with residents associations, students and churches ahead of next year's plebiscite.
The party has already kick-started a voter registration exercise, urging its card-carrying members in the city to register to vote.
"Our strategy to win the hearts and minds of the people of Bulawayo revolves around unity, uniting with key stakeholders in the city," said Sibanda. "Unity is our key word. We want to first unite all our party members in Bulawayo. The party has been divided and that cost us in the past elections."
Sibanda said the party's association with residents' organisations, students and churches would enable it to mobilise a lot of votes for Zanu PF.
"We are also targeting a unity pact with key stakeholders who will help us in our mobilisation campaigns. We want to unite with key stakeholders like students, churches, residents associations, war veterans, detainees and war collaborators," said Sibanda. "Once we achieve that unity pact, Bulawayo will go to Zanu PF. I can tell you that with this unity pact, we can easily have over 80 000 residents vote for Zanu PF in Bulawayo."
He said during the anti-sanctions campaign in 2011, Bulawayo province raised at least 79 000 signatures, an indication that the 80 000 votes were possible.
Sibanda said the party was leaving no stone unturned in efforts to reverse Zanu PF's 2008 election white-wash by the MDC formations in Bulawayo.
Zanu PF fared badly in the 2008 elections in Bulawayo and failed to win a single seat in the province.
In some polling stations, President Robert Mugabe got zero votes and the former ruling party blamed the poor showing to factionalism.
But Bulawayo Progressive Residents Associations (BPRA) chairperson, Rodrick Fayayo said the organisation would not support any political party.
"BPRA works with all stakeholders. We can work with Zanu PF on issues to do with service delivery but we cannot be involved in their mobilisation campaigns," said Fayayo.
"We can only mobilise residents to register to vote and we are not worried about who they vote for."
Zanu PF Bulawayo province has over the years grappled with infighting, factionalism and discontent among party members.
Shortly after the election of Sibanda as provincial chairperson recently, divisions and infighting emerged over charges that the former had rigged elections.
So serious was the infighting that the province failed to accredit on time its delegates for the Zanu PF conference in the Midlands province in December.