From George Maponga in Masvingo
The ruling Zanu-PF here is revelling in its recent crushing victory in the Zaka East parliamentary by-election saying the resounding win was a clear message from the majority of Zimbabweans that they have faith in the direction the country was taking under the stewardship of President Mnangagwa.
They said the victory was also a harbinger of good things for the ruling party ahead of the next elections in 2023, with the main opposition, MDC-Alliance, in tatters after losing a string of by-elections held post-2018 harmonised elections.
Zanu-PF last Saturday retained the Zaka East National Assembly seat after its candidate, businessman Cde Clemence Chiduwa garnered 7 119 votes to romp to a landslide victory, shrugging off the challenge of three other candidates by a wide margin.
Cde Chiduwa’s nearest challenger Mr Derick Charamba of MDC-A could only manage 1 518 votes, a result that has already sent alarm bells ringing in the beleaguered opposition party.
Mr Clemence Chavarika of the National Constitutional Assembly got 83 votes while Mr Lazarus Mubango of Free Zimbabwe Congress settled for 63 votes in an election that had 55,7 percent of voter turnout.
However, it was the dismal performance by the MDC-A in the Zaka East by-election which has proved that Zanu-PF remains the only game in town as the nation canters toward 2023 elections.
Zanu-PF’s victory in Zaka East was the third seat to be won by the ruling party in by-elections held since last year’s harmonised elections after the party also won in Lupane East and Mangwe by National Assembly by-elections.
Ruling party Masvingo provincial vice chair Cde Ailess Baloyi said the MDC-A continued to be rejected because of its ideological bankruptcy, adding that it will not be any better for the party in 2023. He said the spate of victories by the party in recent by-elections was a thumbs up to President Mnangagwa’s leadership. “The victory in Zaka East shows that Zanu-PF is still strong and the party of choice in Masvingo province. It also shows that going forward to 2023, Zanu-PF will continue to dominate because people have confidence in the leadership of President Mnangagwa who is a listening President,” said Cde Baloyi.
“Zanu-PF will continue to win because it’s a pro-people political party and as for other political parties including the MDC-A, the message is very simple they need to go back to the drawing board because they will continue to be rejected by the people especially in the Zanu-PF fortress of Masvingo.”
Cde Baloyi said policies being pursued by President Mnangagwa’s administration such as the devolution programme and Vision 2030 put Zanu-PF on a different pedestal compared to other political parties including the MDC-A.
Mr Charamba, who is the MDC-A provincial spokesperson for Masvingo conceded that all was not rosy for his party judging by results of recent by-elections both National Assembly and councillors.
“I think we need to go back to the drawing board and re-strategise that is the only way we can recover, but you should know that it is always difficult to beat the ruling party in by-elections though at the end of the day you have to be in it in order to win it. The bottom line is we need to re-strategise going forward and that is the only way we can come right next time. In 2023, there is no doubt we will win,” said Mr Charamba.
Masvingo has since earned the moniker “one party state” owing to Zanu-PF’s dominance in the province with the ruling party controlling 25 out of the 26 National Assembly seats.