ZANU PF and the MDC shared the spoils of two by-elections in Mwenezi and Harare.

MDC Alliance lost dismally to Zanu PF in Mwenezi over the weekend with the ruling party’s Samuel Kwinika garnering 1 811 votes in the Ward 15 elections while the opposition candidate Shepherd Dzuda had a paltry 27.

In Kuwadzana, Adnonia Shoko of MDC won the by-election with 1 517 votes against Zanu PF candidate Lloyd Makuwe’s 718.

The opposition MDC yesterday said the by-elections in Harare and Masvingo were an indication of a serious need for reforms because the run up to the polls in both wards was marred by cases of vote-buying and intimidation.

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“This tells you that it is not possible to have a proper election even in Harare. People were called to come and collect rice on the day of voting, Zanu PF was drilling a borehole a few metres from the polling station. These are not

elections. It is manipulation of people’s poverty. Weaponising poverty and food and it is the biggest challenge that we have,” the MDC secretary for elections, Jacob Mafume said yesterday.

“You can talk of figures and statistics, they are not a reflection of the people’s sentiments. People in the village are told to vote for Zanu PF for them to get food and secondly, if there is food, MDC supporters are deprived of that. If they vote MDC, they are beaten up after the elections and it is something we should work on to stop otherwise elections will remain useless without reforms.”

“It is politics of the stomach and the stomach is hungry so it is the stomach that expresses an opinion,” the opposition party charged.

Last week, the MDC launched an outreach programme targeted at rural voters.

The launch was held at the Morgan Tsvangirai Houses, the MDC headquarters in Harare and will see Chamisa meeting party structures in most provinces.

Zanu PF leader President Emmerson Mnangagwa also last week and directed his party to be visible in the rural areas, an indication he wanted to solidify control in a key constituent.

“He (Mnangagwa) further directed all ministers, accounting officers and senior officers spend more time with communities in the countryside, implementing and monitoring key government programmes that yield a better quality of life for all citizens,” Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa told journalists after Tuesday’s Cabinet meeting in Harare.