Harare - Zimbabwe's ruling Zanu-PF party has come up with a novel way of enticing new members – issuing party cards that can also be used as bank debit cards.
Given the chronic cash shortages in the country, the cards could prove an effective recruitment tool ahead of 2018 polls.
"These cards are different from the ones that we used to issue because they can be used for other financial transactions and are as good as bank cards," Zanu-PF political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere, told the state-run Sunday News.
Officials say the cards will be linked to the state-owned People's Own Savings Bank POSB) and will also bear the party member's bank account number.
Many people in the rural areas don't have bank accounts, which are mainly used by those who receive salaries in the formal sector.
But this could soon change.
"The information we have is that POSB will issue more point of sale (POS) machines in rural areas and enable people to transact using plastic money without travelling to urban centres," another Zanu-PF official, Cornelius Mpereri told the paper.
The scheme will have another advantage for the ruling party: the efficient collection of membership fees, which will be automatically deducted from their members’ accounts.
Mpereri, who is the party’s Midlands spokesman, said the province is planning to issue a million members with the new cards ahead of the 2018 polls. Individual membership fees are one US dollar per month.
There have been numerous reports in the past of villagers in some rural areas being forced to produce Zanu-PF membership cards to qualify for food aid.