MUTARE, MANICALAND —
At least 15 candidates will tussle it out in Zanu PF primary elections ahead of a by-election to replace the party’s former administration secretary, Didymus Mutasa.
Acting Zanu PF Manicaland chairperson Samuel Undenge says the interest to represent the party in the by-election to fill the seat, which was declared vacant following Mutasa’s expulsion from Zanu PF, shows Zanu PF is regaining its popularity.
The opposition MDC-T says it will not field a candidate in this and other by-elections expected to be held this year until tangible electoral reforms have been made.
Mr. Undenge says candidates will be vetted before Zanu PF can select its official candidate in primary elections ahead of the nomination court that will sit in Mutare on April 8th. The by-election to fill the vacant seat is set for the 10th of June.
Many in the constituency cannot believe that Didymus Mutasa, a former confidante of President Robert Mugabe and known for the longest time the political Godfather of Manicaland province, is now an ordinary man without any political clout after spending almost his whole adult life with Zanu PF.
Undenge, who is also the Energy and Power Development Minister, says judging by the many people wanting to have their name on the ballot paper representing Zanu PF in the election shows how the party’s popularity is on the rise.
The MDC-T’s Manicaland provincial spokesperson Trevor Saruwaka says his party, as stated before, will not field candidates in by-elections until key electoral reforms have been put in place.
Mutasa has gone to the Constitutional Court to challenge Zanu PF’s decision to recall him and the manner in which the party’s December Congress was held.
Some of the 15 Zanu PF candidates interested in the Headlands parliamentary seat include former Manicaland Governor and Resident Minister Tinaye Chigudu, acting Manicaland war veterans’ leader Nation Madongorere, provincial party members Chris Chingosho, Albert Nyakuedzwa, Elizabeth Makoni, Nathaniel Mhiripiri and Dakarai Mapuranga, among others.
It is not yet clear which other political parties will jostle for the Headland seat.
Meanwhile, the MDC-T Manicaland provincial chair David Chimhini says his party has set its focus on increasing grassroot membership support. Chimhini says the MDC-T wants to have at least 16,000 registered members in each of the 26 constituencies in the province.
He says the party is embarking on a door-to-door membership drive, ensuring supporters get identity documents to ensure they can register as voters ahead of the 2018 polls.
Chimhini says his party is guaranteed of success if it manages to have 16,000 members registered in each constituency as voters. The MDC-T chair says he is confident with the release of the electronic voters’ roll the party is now in a position to know who is a voter and who is not.
He adds the MDC-T is happy with progress being recorded on the ground in terms of getting as many people as possible to register as voters.