By Marcus Mushonga
Harare — A month before watershed general elections, the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) has already clinched 46 wards after opposition coalitions failed to field candidates.
Of these wards, 19 of them are in Mashonaland Central Province, 13 in the Midlands, nine in Mashonaland East and four in Matabeleland South.
Most are in the rural areas, for decades a stronghold of the ruling party.
Following the failure by opposition to field ward councillors, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) used Section 125 (4) of the Electoral Act to confirm victory for ZANU-PF ward council candidates.
Analysts believe the development would provide a psychological boost to ZANU-PF, in power since independence from Britain in 1980.
Failure to field candidates by the opposition, particularly the coalitionof Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), highlights the cracks within its ranks ahead of the July 30 polls.
“While every Zimbabwean knows ZANU-PF’s stronghold is in rural areas, this early gift would significantly influence voters to follow suit as they choose members of parliament. This will work against the opposition,” activist James Zvabva told CAJ News.
MDC activist Shorai Murefu disagreed: “MDC-Alliance will not be intimidated by its failure to field aspiring ward councillors because the bigger assignment lies on members of parliament (MPs) and presidential where our party will excel.”
Simon Khaya Moyo, ZANU-PF spokesperson, despite the hardships the country had endured over the years, said the reformed ZANU-PF was on course to revive the country.
While most of the problems are blamed on the former administration of now-deposed president, Robert Mugabe, sanctions imposed by the West have been detrimental.
“ZANU-PF remained resilient and has moved on and indeed has very clear policies and programmes which are in sync with the people’s aspirations,” Moyo said.
The forthcoming presidential race will be between incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa of ZANU PF and Nelson Chamisa of MDC.