Some voters in Harare say Zimbabwe’s forthcoming parliamentary by-elections set for Wednesday should not only be used to test Zanu PF’s support in urban areas but to also usher in a new development plan for the capital city.
Many Zanu PF supporters like Noreen Gadzamoyo of Glen View South say the by-elections are a foregone conclusion as Zanu PF will win against small party contestants and independent candidates because the ruling party’s nemesis, the opposition Movement for Democratic Change led by former Prime Minister Tsvangirai, is boycotting the polls.
But Harare East registered voter, Kudzai Siyoka, says this is not all about just romping to victory as time for sloganeering will soon pass and elected lawmakers taken to task to fulfill their promises. At the same time, Kuwadzana-based MDC-T supporter, Misheck Mutero, says Zanu PF’s victory will be insignificant since the ruling party already lacks legitimacy.
All MDC formations are boycotting the parliamentary by-elections as they are calling for electoral reforms before participating in any poll in the country. They claim that even the 2013 general elections were rigged in favour of President Robert Mugabe and his party.
Meanwhile, the Electoral Court has ruled that the Hurungwe West by-election must go on Wednesday despite an urgent application by independent candidate, Temba Mliswa who cited voter intimidation by supected Zanu PF supporters.
However, the court ruled that the case should be heard in the High Court after the by-election.
Hurungwe West has been the epicentre of alleged intimidation and violence more than the other nine by-elections.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission says preparations for the 10 by-elections, which will cost an estimated $20 million, is an advanced stage and all systems go Wednesday.
Mliswa told VOA Studio 7 he is happy that the Electoral Court has ruled against the three respondents, ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, Zanu PF and Local Government Minister, Ignatius Chombo, who were arguing that the matter should not be heard by this court.
Mr. Mugabe’s party has dismissed these allegations as far-fetched, labeling the MDC formations stooges of the West, which imposed sanctions against the president and his inner circle for human rights violations and failing to conduct proper elections.
The opposition Transform Zimbabwe’s candidate for Highfield West, Kudakwashe Makuwe, has been feeling the heat in the run-up to the polls. He claims that the ruling party has been terrorizing his supporters.
Zanu PF’s deputy director of information, Psychology Maziwisa, who is also contesting the Highfield West seat, says these allegations are frivolous. Maziwisa could not be drawn to comment further saying he was putting the last touches to his campaign ahead of polls tomorrow.
While Zanu PF is approaching these polls with verve, political analyst Dumisani Nkomo of a non-profit organization, Habbakuk Trust, believes that the ruling party is using the by-elections to settle its internal fights.
Nkomo says despite having a majority in parliament, the by-elections are also important in the battle to succeed 91 year-old President Mugabe. Elections Resource Centre director, Tawanda Chimhini, further says the polls have exposed the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission’s lack of preparedness in conducting elections.
He argues that voter registration and voter education were not conducted professionally due lack of funds.
Independent candidate, Albert Mhlanga, said the whole cabinet descended on his constituency last week in a last ditch effort to wrest the five Bulawayo seats from the independents.
Some Zimbabweans are expected to boycott the by-elections being held amid an economic crisis that appears to be worsening everyday as the country struggles to even pay its workers and pensioners due to tight fiscal space.