BULAWAYO,November 12,2015 — Zanu PF is poised to win the vacant Nkulumane seat, bringing to six the number of constituencies under its control in the second largest city.
Zanu PF has been having it easy in by-elections after its biggest rival, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC-T), said it would boycott polls until electoral reforms were put in place.
All the parties that have splintered from the MDC have vowed not to participate in any elections until the electoral playing field was levelled.
True to their word, they have not fielded any candidates for the Nkulumane by-election.
Only three candidates, Killian Sibanda of Zanu PF, Ngwalo Nyathi of the Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe and Sibusisiwe Mpofu of the Reformed Democrats of Zimbabwe filed their nomination papers in Bulawayo last week.
The boycott strategy allowed Zanu-PF to grab five seats in Bulawayo during the June 10 by-elections, which were triggered by the firing of 16 MDC-T legislators who had defected to form another political outfit.
A victory in Nkulumane would effectively put Zanu PF on an equal footing with the MDC-T, whose Bulawayo National Assembly seats would be whittled down to six.
For more than a decade, Zanu PF had struggled to make inroads in the second city, which had been dominated by the MDC-T since its formation in 1999.
The by-election in the Nkulumane constituency follows the death last month of former MDC-T member, Thamsanqa Mahlangu.
ZAPU, led by Dumiso Dabengwa, which had hoped to cause an upset in the June 10 by-election but dismally failed, did not field any candidate for this coming by-election.
ZAPU spokesperson Iphithule Maphosa said they did not field a candidate because the by-elections was likely to coincide with their congress, also slated for next month.
“ZAPU will not contest the Nkulumane by-election slated for December 19.
“This has been necessitated by the need to concentrate on our upcoming December congress preparations, which coincide with the proclaimed election day and campaign period,” he said.
He said they were also concerned with the uneven political playing field in Zimbabwe.
Political commentator, Anglistone Sibanda, said it was given that ZANU-PF’s winning streak would be extended even further.
“The reality of the matter is that whether the major opposition parties are participating or not, it is still going to be a whitewash victory for ZANU-PF, especially considering the fragmentation within the opposition,” said Sibanda.
Dumisani Mpofu, another political commentator, said the contending parties in the Nkulumane by-election were unknown and unlikely to cause any upset.
“This will be a Zanu PF election for Zanu PF supporters and the likelihood of most of them going to vote is very high.
“The decision by the MDC formations not to participate in the by-elections has been ill-informed; the uneven political playing field they have cited has always been there.
“Their decision has really complicated the whole political scenario in this country and will make them fail to attract more voters in 2018, resulting in voter apathy in favour of ZANU-PF,” Mpofu said.