Zanu-PF is now targeting youths from Pentecostal churches (which are fast spreading their tentacles countrywide), as the party tries to woo voters ahead of harmonised elections likely to be held this year, a senior party official has said.

Addressing a Matabeleland North Zanu-PF provincial meeting in Lupane (western Zimbabwe) recently, Politburo member Dzikamai Mavhaire said the party’s campaigns should include focus on the “trendy Pentecostal church youth”.

Mavhaire said the party did not want to make the same mistake as it did with the Apostolic sects and traditional churches — where it managed to make inroads — but was let down by people from these denominations as some did not even have identity documents to enable them to vote.

Mavhaire said the youths should be assisted to register as voters and be encouraged to take part in the watershed polls.

Pentecostal churches have arguably the largest following in Zimbabwe with popular prophets like Emmanuel Makandiwa and Uebert Angel attracting tens of thousands of congregants to their services.

“There are those children who were 14 years old in 2008 and now form part of the voters. The youths form the majority vote in this country,” said Mavhaire.

“We should find ways of enticing these trendy youths from these popular churches to vote for Zanu- PF. They have their ways of dressing and fashion sense. Let us accommodate them. They want to vote for the party, but need encouragement to register as voters first, then vote for the party.”

He said Zanu-PF would soon set up a committee that would visit areas where the party fared badly to listen to the people’s concerns and convince them to come back to the party.

“Teachers and civil servants have also seen the light and now want to vote for the party,” said Mavhaire.

“When they come, do not treat them with suspicion. They have realised that what they thought was a mountain was only smoke because. The people who made many promises on the outside failed to deliver when they joined government.”

Mavhaire also said Zanu-PF was working on ways to register those with IDs marked “alien” especially from farming and mining areas so that they would take part in the elections.

He said those people were keen on voting for Zanu-PF, but were restricted by the “high cost” of renouncing their old citizenships.

“This is a watershed election,” said Mavhaire. “Whether you like it or not, the magnitude of this election is greater than that in 1980 . . . The danger with losing power is that it goes for good. If you lose it, the one who gets it will make sure that you are extinct.”