By Sij Ncube
HARARE, June 4, 2015 – IN a desperate bid to spring surprises in the forthcoming June 10 parliamentary by-elections, independent contestants have unveiled an electoral pact dubbed a Coalition of Independent Candidates but analysts say the development is too little too late to prevent President Robert Mugabe’s party from romping to victory.
With the MDC formations boycotting the polls citing lack of wide-sweeping reforms, analysts tip Zanu PF to bag the seats being contested in Harare and Bulawayo where Mugabe’s party has been banished by the opposition since 2000.
But several independents have thrown their hats into the ring in what is suspected to be attempts to protect the MDC formations political turf in Harare and Bulawayo.
Farai Kuzeya, the self-appointed spokesperson for the Coalition of Independents, said the loose=grouping comprised independent candidates representing 10 constituencies, namely Harare East, Kuwadzana, Kambuzuma, Highfields, Dzivarasekwa, Glenview South, Lobengula, Makokoba, Pumula and Mbizo.
Kuyeza believe the electoral pact increase the chances of independents in the polls particularly against Zanu PF in cities and towns, the perceived strongholds of the opposition.
Apart from independent candidates, Dumiso Dabengwa’s Zapu and Lovemore Madhuku’s National Assembly have also fielded candidates in polls Zanu PF is vowing to win at all costs.
Mugabe called for by-elections in 14 constituencies after parliament expelled opposition legislators from the august house at the behest of MDC-T after the officials broke away from party leader Morgan Tsvangirai following the disputed July 31, harmonised elections.
But analysts canvassed by Radio VOP after the unveiling of the Coalition of Independents are adamant the electoral pact is a question of too little too late and would likely have little impact on the outcome of the polls.
Charles Mangongera, a Harare-based researcher and political analyst, believes the biggest challenge the independents will face is that of voter apathy among core MDC supporters he says are likely to stay-away from the elections.
“Moreover, historically, Zimbabwean voters tend to vote for parties than candidates. Unlike in some countries such as Malawi, where the current parliament has more independent MPs than any of the parties represented, Zimbabweans have no history of voting for independent candidates,” said Mangongera.
Maxwell Saungweme, a development consultant-cum political analyst, says while Zanu PF does need a strong coalition of everyone to unseat it, it does not require mere power hungry individuals.
“It (Coalition of Independents) may work, but to campaign you also need money, and a social base. One wonders what of these two these independent candidates have.”
But for Kuyeza, the coalition spokesperson, the independents have all what it takes to spring surprises come next Wednesday.