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Battles to watch in today's Zimbabwe election

by Staff reporter
23 Aug 2023 at 06:33hrs | Views
AFTER five very short years, we are back to the polls.

It feels it was just yesterday when President Mnangagwa gave us that signature dance to the Kutonga Kwaro soundtrack. It feels it was just yesterday when the stage that Mr Nelson Chamisa was standing on while addressing a Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance campaign rally in Hwange portentously collapsed on June 17, 2018.

Attempting to divert attention from himself moments after regaining his feet, he joked that the caving in of his own stage signified how Zanu-PF "would fall" in the election, not his loss which followed 33 days later.

There were 24 presidential candidates in that election; this time they are down to 11.  Four women sought election to the high office then, now there is just one.  Of the 24, six are back on the ballot – President Mnangagwa, Mr Chamisa, Mr Joseph Busha, Mr Blessing Kasiyamhuru, Professor Lovemore Madhuku and Mr Peter Wilson.

As was the case five years ago, the competition that the President and Zanu-PF will face will come from Mr Chamisa, leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) since he formed it in January last year.  They are the only candidates with a national outlook, followed by Professor Madhuku.

We have said before that the country had not witnessed as many transformative projects in its history as it is seeing now.  Dams, roads, schools, hospitals, airports, irrigation schemes, innovation and industrial hubs at institutions of higher learning, are among the 7 000 projects that the Second Republic has been developing over the past five years.  Of the 7 000, more than 5 000 have been completed across the country.

Binga now has a nursing school and a polytechnic while a number of mining projects are coming up.  The San community, on the margins of mainstream society for centuries, now have a chief and a headman.  The Government issued them with identity documents so some of them registered as voters.

Eligible ones will be able to vote for the first time today.  Dozens of youths from that community are now prison officers and university students after the Second Republic gave them a special dispensation to enroll even if some were ordinarily unqualified to do so.

Lake Gwayi-Shangani in Matebeleland North, a more than a century-old vision, is now reality and is set to begin impounding water this or next rainy season when its construction ends.  Thereafter, Bulawayo's water crisis would be history and a greenbelt of tourism, hospitality and agriculture enterprises will flow on the sides of a pipeline from the dam to the city.

Zimbabwe sent its first satellite into space in November last year.  That success represents a commitment by the Government for the country to soar.

In terms of agriculture, the country last year harvested 375 000 tonnes of wheat, a record since commercial wheat production started in the country in 1966.  That meant the country had enough for its consumption.  This year, more than 2,3million tonnes of maize will be harvested, which leaves a substantial surplus which is set to be exported, yet another record.

Therefore, the country goes to the polls today, food secure, thanks to the various initiatives by the Second Republic.
Indeed, no one, no place has been left behind as the Government intensifies its drive to move the country up to upper-middle-income status by 2030.

The ruling party held democratic primary elections early this year, attracting more than three million participants.  The turnout is about 50 percent of the total registered voters of about 6,6 million people in the country.

Mr Chamisa will face this impressive record today, not promises.  The electorate will bear that record in mind as they vote.
"Zanu-PF is unstoppable, victory is ours, victory is certain," President Mnangagwa declared at his final star rally in Shurugwi on Saturday.

"However, our DNA as the revolutionary party, we preach peace, unity and love. We say no to violence of all forms.  With our vote on Wednesday, we defeat heavily those we will be contesting with. As Zanu-PF, we will not sell out our heritage given to us by our ancestors. Victory is on the horizon, victory is certain. Come Wednesday, Zanu-PF is registering a resounding victory."

Indeed, Mr Chamisa, and all other candidates, have been campaigning freely nationwide.  He addressed his final rally on Monday in Harare and expressed hope that he will win."Congratulations Zimbabwe," he said.
"God's plan will never fail.  I have already started formulating my cabinet."

It is somewhat unfortunate that the race for State House lost probably its earliest competitor, Mr Robert Chapman of the Democratic Union of Zimbabwe.  He literary started racing alone, addressing a few individuals during walkabouts at markets and streets in some parts of the country a year or so ago.  He said he failed to raise enough money to pay nomination fees for himself and some prospective parliamentary and council candidates.

Ms Elizabeth Valerio is in it for women, some would say.

Women constitute 52 percent of the country's population, but, according to Veritas, following the 2018 general election, only 48 percent of senators were women and only 31,5 percent of members of the National Assembly were women.  This despite 60 seats being reserved for women elected on a party-list system.

Following the 2022 by-elections, out of the 28 parliamentary seats contested only five women were elected.  At the local government level only 19 women were elected to councils as opposed to 103 men.

This term, only 70 women secured nomination to contest National Assembly seats.

Contests to look out for in the parliamentary race include Uzumba and Maramba Pfungwe in Mashonaland East Province, Cowdray Park and Bulawayo South in Bulawayo, Chivi Central in Masvingo as well as Binga North and Binga North in Matebeleland North.

In Maramba Pfungwe, the ruling party secured a routine victory in 2018 after its candidate, Tichaona Karumazondo polled 24 317 votes while Admire Chakwiza of MDC-Alliance got 929.  Simbaneuta Mudarikwa won Uzumba after getting 21 405 votes versus 1 850 that MDC Alliance's Peckson Kazingizi got.

Karumazondo is likely to have it easy defending the seat against Chiratidzo Chumunhu of CCC, with Wiriranai Muchemwa having it equally easy in Uzumba against CCC's Cosmas Kanono.

Professor Mthuli Ncube has transformed Cowdray Park within six or so months having served as Finance and Economic Development Minister since 2018 after getting into parliament as a non-constituency legislator.  He is tarring roads and drilling boreholes; introduced public wifi and a number of courses for the youths and is assisting the needy.

While the opposition has generally won all contested seats in the city since 2000, except in the 2005 senate elections and in 2018 when the ruling party won a seat, Prof Ncube has a big chance against Pashor Sibanda of the CCC.

Bulawayo South will be one to watch as well as Raj Modi seeks to retain the constituency against Jane Watson of the CCC and Admore Gomba of the Democratic Official Party.  Like Prof Ncube, Modi has worked hard in Bulawayo South.

He polled 5 752 votes in 2018 to emerge victorious from a pool of 16 candidates.  Francis Mangwendeza, representing MDC-A was second on 4 155 votes.  Like in Cowdray Park, Modi has a big chance to retain that seat.

The opposition has ruled in Binga District since 2000.  It is a rematch between the incumbent, Prince Dubeko Sibanda and Kudakwashe Munsaka in Binga North.  Dube got 10 130 votes in a by-election in March last year, defeating Munsaka who garneted 7 971.  In Binga South, Challenge Phiri is pitted against CCC's Fanuel Cumazala.

Will the status quo continue in the district after the massive developments which the Second Republic has been executing in the area?

In Chivi Central in Masvingo Province, Exevia Maoneke, a wealthy businessman with interests in real estate and logistics, has been campaigning in style, traversing the rural constituency aboard a helicopter.  A former civil servant, Maoneke is also a philanthropist.  He faces Peter Makotose of CCC, as the ruling party seeks to retain the seat in style.

Source - The Chronicle