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When the rich fight over the poor

25 Mar 2023 at 17:06hrs | Views
A SLEEK Toyota Prado VX V8 off-road vehicle makes a rumbling sound along a gravel road as it negotiates its way into the poverty-stricken Chihota communal areas.

A group of people, mainly Zanu-PF members, burst into song as the fuel-guzzling vehicle approached, showering praises on its owner.

Following it is a truckload laden with plastic dishes.

The crowd burst again into another song.

It is six months before the country's general elections, but as the nation observes the Zanu-PF primary elections today into tomorrow, the situation on the ground points to one hell of an election this year.

Zanu-PF candidates, aspiring to represent the ruling party in the forthcoming general elections, long hit the ground running, dishing out money and goodies to voters way back before the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) presented its delimitation report.

In the entire Mashonaland East province, political enthusiasts have been offered a free opera as aspiring candidates fight for attention.

The drama has been especially enthralling in the province's Marondera West constituency, where businesspersons Sphiwe Mukunyaidze and Godwin Tavaziva have been flaunting their financial muscle to woo the largely poor electorate in the area.

Mukunyaidze is the incumbent legislator, while Tavaziva is a provincial member of the ruling party.

The two politicians have turned the constituency into a vehicle showroom, as they seek to outclass each another by showing off in top-of-the-range vehicles.

Apart from the V8-engined monsters, both have the latest Mercedes-Benz 4matic  and G-Wagon vehicles, among other luxurious and expensive wheels.

Truckloads of groceries, bicycles, plastic ware and blankets have flooded the constituency, all targeted at the electorate.

In some instances, women got money in groups for the voluntary lending scheme, popularly known as mukando.

"We are in for a free movie, the two are dishing out goodies, it has been long. It is a show for the fittest. The coming in of Tavaziva as an interested candidate saw both politicians trying to outdo each other," said one Zanu-PF provincial member.

The constituency is one of the poorest in terms of social services and development in the province, despite its proximity to both Marondera city and the capital Harare.

Marondera West has no boarding school, only has a single Advanced Level out of the 14 secondary schools and four of the constituency's wards have no clinics.

The highway that links the constituency's growth points of Mushandirapamwe and Chihota is in a sorry state, with motorists forced to use makeshift roads that cut across people's fields to avoid potholes.

"This is the case here, the area is poor, yet we have rich people leading us. It is a pity that we have politicians who believe that giving a primary school pupil plastic ware is development," said Rodney Nhachi, a vendor and villager in Materera.

Following Zec's controversial delimitation exercise, Marondera West lost five of its wards to Hwedza North and gained some from Seke constituency.

With Tavaziva and Mukunyaidze jostling on a new turf, another prominent businessman and medical doctor — Johannes Marisa — has joined in the fray.

Yet another candidate for the same constituency is one Masimbi Masimbi, a well-known land baron in the area, further muddying the playing field, but ensuring more goodies for the poverty-stricken electorate that largely survives on communal farming and market gardening.

But, obviously, as Zanu-PF holds its primaries, the goodies have dried up and the villagers wait for the next round of vicious campaigns pitting the winning ruling party candidate against possibly someone from the main opposition, the Citizens Coalition for Change and perhaps other hopefuls from the fading MDC and a litany of fridge parties.

For the poor electorate of Marondera West, the old adage: When two elephants fight it is the grass that suffers, probably aptly describes what lies ahead for them.

Source - newsday
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