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Zimbabwe Ruling Party Claims Parliamentary Seat In By-Election

A candidate of Zimbabwe's beleaguered ruling party claimed a parliamentary seat in the Masvingo constituency of Chiredzi South in an election that had been seen as a potential bellwether of voter sentiment but was marked by an apathetic turnout.

ZANU-PF candidate Kalisto Gwanetsa received 10,401 votes, followed by Emmaculate Makondo of the Movement for Democratic Change faction of Morgan Tsvangirai with 3,300 votes. Mayithani Chauke of the United People’s Party came in third with 896, according to the Zimbabwe Election Support Network, a civil society group.

The respected election monitoring organization had said before the poll that voting conditions were not in keeping with the principles and standards established by the Southern African Development Community. Opposition officials said local officials manipulated food assistance to the community for political purposes.

ZESN officials said Chiredzi voters expressed disinterest with only 29% of the 54,000 registered turning out.

ZESN Director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava told reporter Carole Gombakomba of VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe that poor voter education, the mediocre quality of candidates and pre-election intimidation by government officials explained the poor turnout.

Elsewhere in Zimbabwe, reports said ZANU-PF won the Bulilima and Bubi-Mguza rural district council elections that were held in Matebeleland on Saturday.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...