FADZAYI Mahere says she picked her lessons after standing as an independent candidate for the Mt Pleasant seat in the 2018 elections parliamentary elections.
Mahere came a distant third in the election behind behind Samuel Banda of MDC Alliance and Jason Passade of Zanu-PF. This is despite that Banda rarely held campaigns while Mahere campaigned at least a year before the voting, and ran the most organized election campaign in the rest of the country.
The following year, Mahere joing the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa which later became the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), for which she is now national spokesperson.
Tech-savvy Harare entrepreneur Kuda Musasiwa, who managed Mahere’s campaigns, said the most valuable lesson he picked was that Twitter followers do not amount to votes on polling day. He was cautioning fellow colleagues in the CCC that even with popularity on social media, it was important and necessary to campaign on the real ground.
Reflecting on her experience from the 2018 campaigns, Mahere said she had no regrets at the results despite the amount of resources and time she and her team put into it.
“Although I have no regrets about running an accessible and inclusive campaign. Numbers matter. So does inclusivity. Whatever medium people use to air their concerns or make their voices heard, we must listen. Remember, we became political because we felt excluded,” she said.
Musasiwa, who ran her campaigns, believes the influence of Twitter on elections in Zimbabwe is misunderstood. Referring to his 2018 experience, he said:
“Once upon a time, we ran a spirited campaign for an independent seat in a Harare seat. Due to Twitter noise we spent copious amounts translating the Yellow manifesto into Sign language, ndebele etc etc. No one bothered to watch or read translations.”
The impact of social media campaigns in Zimbabwe’s elections are a matter of intense debate.
In the last six months, the CCC went on a social media campaign blitz encouraging young people to vote. Statistics show that since the 2018 elections, a net of just 77 000 new voter registrations were achieved, after factoring the 32 000 deceased voters.
With 1 nearly 11 000 polling stations nationwide, this means each polling station gained just a measly 7 new voters in the last four years, yet over 2 million youths turned eighteeen in the same period.
Analysts have expressed worry over the effectiveness of Twitter as a campaign tool in Zimbabwe. CCC activist Hopewell Chin’ono, who relies on social media to drive his messages, was equally worried, but laid the blame on CCC elected officials who he accuses of not doing enough to attract new voters.
“Since the last election in 2018, only 109,405 have registered to vote. 32,000 dead people have been removed from the voters roll.
“So technically only 77,405 have been registered to vote. Between 2018 and today, 2 million Zimbabwean youths have turned 18 years old.
“Prospective CCC MPs and Councilors are not doing their work. The truth is that CCC prospective MPs and Councilors are doing very little to motivate the youths.
“Serious politicians around the world reach out to the youths via Tik-Tok, but non of our lot is there doing the same.
“They don’t care because they are targeting urban seats and wards where they are guaranteed to win.
“They will win these urban seats and wards but unfortunately with very small margins affecting the Presidential vote. But for most of them they don’t care because parliament is a job, and not service.
“If Nelson Chamisa doesn’t do something drastic, he will lose because of his team’s failure! CCC should be a citizen movement which throws away the “…we were there when it started…” nonsense which has crept into CCC from the old MDC.
“We are not fighting for useless candidates to replace a group of useless ZANUPF MPs and councilors. Zimbabwe needs REAL CHANGE not just a change of names.
“We are not interested in photographs of prospective MPs and Councilors in communities, we want to see the numbers of registered voters going up.
“(Zambian President) Hakainde Hichilema didn’t post pictures at all, we saw the registered Zambian voters going up and we knew that it meant change was coming to Zed!
“Any prospective or current MP or Councilor who doesn’t want to hear this truth is not only USELESS, but as bad as ZANUPF.”