By Sij Ncube
President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu (PF) has shrugged off lame challenges from a fractured opposition to claim all the 16 contested parliamentary seats in Wednesday’s by-elections, in what analysts say now presents the main opposition MDC with an onerous task of defending its political turf especially in Harare and Matabeleland ahead of the crunch 2018 polls.
The MDC formations boycotted the Wednesday by-elections citing lack of wide-sweeping electoral reforms, making it easy for Zanu (PF) to claw its way back into Harare and Bulawayo, the perceived strongholds of the former labour- back party.
The MDC kicked out Zanu (PF) in Harare, Bulawayo and other major towns about 15 years ago.
While demands for requisite electoral reforms are seen as genuine, there have been missed feelings over the MDCs’ boycott of the polls which have allowed Mugabe’s party to have a massive majority in parliament.
Information minister Jonathan Moyo reclaimed the Tsholotsho North seat after garnering 11 695 votes against Busani Ncube (independent 91) and Getrude Sibanda 38 votes. There were 151 spoilt papers. Moyo’s victory was largely expected after sinking boreholes and donating foodstuffs and cash to the impoverished community as well as bring the two vice presidents to the constituency.
Maxwell Saungweme, an analyst closely following Zimbabwe’s politics, says the opposition parties need to work together now to demand electoral reforms first, and present a united front if it entertained a realistic chance of defeating Mugabe and Zanu PF in the next polls.
“They need one candidate if they want to win the hearts of the people and defeat ZANU PF,” said Saungweme.
Thabani Moyo, another political analyst, pointed out that Zanu (PF) already had a two-thirds majority before the bi-elections but went for “extras thanks to the MDC-T benevolence and political short sight.”
“All it means is that opposition’s presence has been heavily diluted and in a way helped Zanu (PF) to strengthen the faction that purged the (former vice president Joice) Mujuru group since it has created political capital even for those that had lost in the previous election like Jonathan Moyo,” he said.
According to analysts, one of the lessons from the by-elections is that Zanu (PF) seeks to redefine the constituency numbers in preparation of the 2018 general elections.
“In essence they are creating baselines so that next election they contest the numbers would reflect the baseline achieved in the by-election and use them to refine the election handling machinery. In terms of the current political play, the opposition is in disarray, literally it is a one-party gameplay,” added Moyo.
In Bulawayo Zanu (PF) bounced back after a 15 year absence winning all the five contested seats. Retired colonel Tshinga Dube finally made it to parliament after several false tries amassing 3 182
votes against 473 for independent candidate Sibangiliswe Msipa.
Dube last week caused a political storm when he roped in Highlanders Football Club as part of his election campaign. He donated a 65-seater bus on the eve of the polls in what analysts believe had a huge bearing in swinging votes to his favour as Highlanders has a huge following in the area.
In Pumula constituency Godfrey Malaba Zanu PF got 2 477 against Bathandi Mpofu of Zapu 777, Lobengula constituency Maidei Mpala Zanu PF polled 1 976 against Casper Sibanda Zapu 492. In Pelandaba-Mpopoma constituency polled Joseph Chuma of Zanu PF 2 050 while in Luveve constituency Thandoyenkosi Mlilo Zanu PF got 1 765 and former broadcaster Amon Nyamambi Dube of Zapu got 562.
In Harare’s Glen View South constituency, Pius Madzinga Zanu PF got 1 396, Michael Chivandire independent 580 and Donald Chimatira. Zanu PF deputy director for information and publicity, Psychology Maziwisa roped to victory in Highfields’ West. Maziwisa Zanu PF got 2 254 while Emmanuel Dzumbunu independent 230 Kudakwashe Makuwe form Transform Zimbabwe got 146.
In Harare East Terrence Mukupe is the new legislator for the area after Zanu PF polled 4 605 while in Kuwadzana constituency, Betty Kaseke Zanu PF registered 3 480 and Itai Magomedza independent 222. Total votes cast 4 209. In Dzivarasekwa Omega Hungwe Zanu PF got 3 116 against Soul Tore independent 253 and Tendai Karimakwenda independent 239. Tinashe Maduza got the right to represent Zanu PF after winning 2 712 votes against Nyasha Makwati of Progresive Democratic Party of Zimbabwe who got 231. Madudza beat seven other contestants.
In Headlands constituency Christopher Chingosho Zanu PF got 11 104, Albert Mukaratirwa Independent 897 and David Mukunda NCA 117. In Dangamvura-Chikanga roped to victory for Zanu PF after businessman Esau Mupfumi Zanu PF got 6 376 and Ruramai Musiiwa NCA 1 003. In Mbizo, Vongaishe Mupereri Zanu PF got 4 269, Onisimo Zhavairo Independent 2 489 and Innocent Madziva Transform Zimbabwe 87.
In the controversial Hurungwe West constituency, Keith Guzah of Zanu PF narrowly beat his nemesis Temba Mlisa after he polled 5 961 against Mliswa’s 4 239. There were 212 spoilt papers.