Joice Mujuru, a former Vice-President now in opposition who fell out with Mr Mugabe (and whose husband, a former head of the army, was mysteriously burned to death in 2011), claims that 3 000 soldiers have already been sent to the countryside in civilian garb to campaign and bully.
Villagers fear that rural chiefs and headmen will withhold food aid if they suspect them of voting the wrong way.
ZANU-PF’s national political commissar menacingly told a rural gathering that people should remember 2008, when thousands of MDC activists in the countryside were set upon by ZANU-PF militias and hundreds were murdered.
Many analysts think that ZANU-PF’s rural voting bloc should ensure victory for Mr Mnangagwa, even without resorting to violence.
“Just the memory of 2008 is enough,” says a former MDC campaigner.
But that is no certainty.
If it is a tight race, the ultimate question is whether the army will hold back.
The new head of the electoral commission admits that 15% of the commission’s staff are retired military officers.
In previous elections, army commanders declared that they would never serve under the MDC.
Mr Mnangagwa insists that the generals are not involved in politics and that “those statements are dead”.
But he rejects the idea that General Chiwenga and the new head of the army should publicly say so.
Zimbabwe is in for a nervous few months.-The Economist.
Ed: Civil servants are now being paid every month before the end of the month. It is not factually correct that 3 million people are surviving on food handouts from Britain and America as USAID itself says only 1.1 million might need food aid.