MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa on Saturday took his meet-the-people campaign to Matabeleland South province to drum-up support for the by-elections to be held early next year and general elections in 2023.

Solani Moyo, the MDC Alliance Matabeleland South provincial chairperson, told Southern Eye that Chamisa will be visiting several wards and conduct an audit of party structures in the province.

“The president is in Matabeleland South where he began his meet-the-people campaign on Saturday. He has visited Insiza South and Umzingwane constituencies. Today (Sunday) he is visiting Bulilima East and Mangwe districts,” Moyo said.

“Even Zanu PF members are welcoming him although there are some elements that tried to block him. Some Zanu PF members even insisted on shaking his hands.”

He said people were keen to meet Chamisa, whom they view as their redeemer from the economic and political problems currently afflicting the country.

“Zanu PF thought it was the only party that had support in the rural areas, but it is now realising that people want change. That is the reason why its supporters have been blocking Chamisa during his meet-the-people tours,” he said.

Last week on Wednesday, armed police and Zanu PF supporters pounced on Chamisa at Vova Shopping Centre in Nkayi, Matabeleland North province. During his meet-the-people tours in Manicaland and Masvingo, Chamisa’s convoy met a lot of violence, including an incident where his vehicle was allegedly shot.

Chamisa has been traversing rural areas in the country, which are generally Zanu PF strongholds, a situation which has riled the ruling party.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa announced that by-elections will be held early next year to fill about 28 vacant Parliamentary seats and about 80 local authority seats.

Meanwhile, Zanu PF is worried about inroads being made by the MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa into its ‘strongholds’ in rural areas and is sweating over new strategies to counter the country’s main opposition party, a new document by the ruling party reveals.

According to the Zanu PF central committee report by the security department adopted at the 19th national people’s conference held in Bindura last month, the ruling party sees the MDC Alliance making inroads in rural areas.

“The opposition is encouraging its members to go to rural areas and form polling centre-based structures similar to [the] Zanu PF Dandemutande strategy,” reads part of the report.

“This is meant to penetrate the ruling party’s rural areas, they will manage to mobilise substantial support from the rural areas, and this will brighten their chances of winning the presidential vote.

“That being the case, it is prudent for Zanu PF to defend its political space by ensuring that it rejuvenates its rural structures and maintains regular interactive programmes with its members.”

Chamisa has in recent weeks been touring largely rural provinces such as Masvingo, Manicaland and Mashonaland West where he has been attracting huge crowds at unscheduled stop-overs.

Apparently confused, Zanu PF officials reacted by organising their supporters to try and violently stop the MDC Alliance’s programmes.

In the same report, the ruling party’s administration department led by Obert Mpofu, bemoaned indiscipline that has accompanied attempts to set up new structures.

“Party cadreship should remain disciplined and true to the values of our revolution,” the report says.

“Vices relating to imposition of candidates, financial leveraging outcome, and unbridled violent tendencies are anathema to the party.

“Stringent disciplinary regimes and penalties will be effected for errant cadres, who transgress and bring the party into disrepute.”

In the run-up to the conference, Zanu PF was forced to abandon provincial elections after violence flared among structures.

The violence was linked to warring factions that are said to be linked to President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his deputy Constantino Chiwenga.

It also emerged from the report that Zanu PF is concerned that Mnangagwa’s Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) is not being taken seriously as shown by continued calls for genuine dialogue.

“The other narrative was that of ‘legitimacy crisis’ whose focus was for the ruling party Zanu PF to engage a particular opposition party in order to reach an agreement that would see the conception of a ‘transitional government’ to take over from Zanu PF government until 2023 harmonised elections,” the report added.

“This is despite the fact that Zanu PF government is working with other opposition parties under Polad.”

MDC Alliance dismisses Polad as a platform for Mnangagwa’s sympathisers.

The ruling party also accused Zanu PF land barons of causing the dwindling of party support base in Harare.

Concern was raised that land barons were tarnishing the party’s image in urban areas.