So next week the electorate in selected constituencies will be casting their ballots for the next individual who will represent them in the August house, the Parliament of Zimbabwe.
This they will do after weeks -if not months- of listening, absorbing and digesting nothing the electorate have to say. We have heard it all before; yes the same old election promises that aspiring office holders regurgitate every pre- election period. “If you vote for me, I will…” That rings a bell right?
The June 10 by–elections come almost two years after the highly disputed July 2013 harmonised elections. These elections were followed by factionalism that rocked the main political parties, ZANU-PF and MDC-T. Expulsions that followed led to several seats in the House of Assembly becoming vacant. Next week’s elections are thus an exercise to fill up parliament again.
New Players on the Scene
The race is going to be mainly between ZANU-PF and Zanu-People First, a new political movement believed to have been formed by Mujuru apologists and several independent candidates. The MDC-T have pulled out of the race, citing the need to have electoral law reforms before the party participates in another democratic election in Zimbabwe.
In a case of undisputed vote-buying Esau Mupfumi, a ZANU-PF Central Committee member and Mutare businessman recently re-donated an ambulance that he had withdrawn after losing in the 2008 harmonised elections. After announcing Mupfumi’s decision, ZANU-PF’s Secretary for Administration, Dr. Ignatious Chombo stated that Mupfumi was not going to receive anything for his good gesture. Instead his punishment for withdrawing the donation in the first place was to return the ambulance with 2000 litres of fuel as an additional donation. As a candidate representing a party that publicly speaks against vote –buying, how else can we explain the return of an ambulance just before a by-election from a contesting candidate for that matter? If Mupfumi finds himself preparing for a swearing in ceremony after June 10, will it be wrong to conclude that the ambulance and the fuel would have paid off?
The electorate in Matebeleland are experiencing rare door-to-door campaigns which are a result of the efforts by both ZAPU and Zanu-PF to gain control of the region. The Chronicle reported that the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Matebeleland South, Abedinico Ncube had said door-to-door campaigns were the only way to consolidate ZANU-PF’s position in the province. Another source however reports that ZAPU’s door-to-door campaigns in Matebeleland had rattled ZANU-PF into emulating the opposition. The article insinuated that ZANU-PF was only doing door-to-door campaigns to counter ZAPU’s efforts. ZAPU president Dumiso Dabengwa has indicated that their choice of campaigns was based on the fact that they are in touch with the people. But how much closer to the people his party is can only be seen by how much they will do for the people whether or not they get into office. Only after June 10 can we tell whether ZANU-PF or ZAPU campaigns have been successful.
In Tsholotsho North constituency, Minister of Media, Information and Broadcasting Services, Jonathan Moyo, will be trying to win the seat back for ZANU-PF since it had been won by Roseline Sipepa-Nkomo on an MDC-T ticket during the 2013 elections.It has also been reported that renovations on roads, boreholes and clinics were being done ahead of this election. These efforts are to remind the electorate that the party has their interests at heart. Good roads, functioning boreholes and well-maintained clinics are basic and daily needs for a community; one just wonders why efforts to maintain them were left until the pre-election period. The election is also a blessing in disguise because residents were probably going to have to endure the poor structures until 2018 when the country is expected to have the next elections.
In Harare, the campaigns have not been any different, with candidates for Kuwadzana and Kambuzuma promising youth empowerment and the provision of lease agreements for stands. Tinashe Maduza is representing ZANU-PF in Kambuzuma whilst Betty Kaseke will be battling it out in Kuwadzana. Kaseke has taken another route that has become popular with politicians: targeting the church. Her main message has been that the church should be involved in developmental programmes; something major political parties have been preaching for over a decade now. We have previously seen Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai don church uniforms and we wonder what is new about it this time.
A Golden Opportunity for Independent Candidates
A number of independent candidates have also taken this election as an opportunity to try their luck in politics, although a number are reported to be secretly affiliated with the so-called Mujuru camp, Zanu- People first. The withdrawal of MDC-T from contesting these elections has also prompted individuals to give ZANU-PF some opposition. As usual, independent candidates do not have the financial muscle to hold rallies like their opponents from major political parties so they have resorted to the use of posters, fliers and social media. A number of them, including Endanai Mugonesa a candidate for Kuwadzana and Tafadzwa Dzumbunu another independent candidate for Highfield West constituency, are complaining that ZANU-PF supporters have been sabotaging their campaigns and intimidating some of their supporters.
In addition to a lack of financial resources, independent candidates always complain of interference from bigger political parties. This election is no different from others as independent candidates are finding it difficult to be on par with their opponents in the scale of their campaigns.
The events leading up to next week’s election are a repetition of what we have experienced before. In as much as access to clean and safe water, proper health service facilities and education are essential as they are basic human rights, politicians still dangle them in front of the electorate in order to get the much-needed vote that gets them into office. Because we have been socialised to view rights as privileges, it is no surprise that many will go and vote for the one who has promised to ensure that they live, even if it is their basic human right.
Main Image taken from www.ctvnews.ca