From George Maponga in Masvingo
The ruling zanu-pf election campaign has reached a crescendo in Mwenezi East where the revolutionary party has lined up 60 rallies to drum up support for its candidate Cde Joosbi Omar ahead of the April 8 parliamentary by- election.
The by-election will be held to fill in a vacancy left after the death of zanu-pf National Assembly Member Cde Joshua Moyo in December last year.
zanu-pf is poised for victory in the by-election with its main rival Mr Kudakashe Bhasikiti of the embattled ZimPF having chickened out of the race.
He alleged vote buying and intimidation by the ruling party among other charges.
Cde Omar will now battle it out with Mr Turner Mhango of Free Zimbabwe Congress Party and Mr Welcome Masuku of NCA.
With effect from this weekend, the revolutionary party has lined up 60 polling station-based rallies across Mwenezi East as the party pulls all the stops for a runaway victory.
zanu-pf Masvingo provincial secretary for administration Cde Ailess Baloyi yesterday said Mr Bhasikiti’s withdrawal from the by-election was not going to affect the magnitude of the ruling party campaign.
He said zanu-pf was aiming for a record victory in Mwenezi East.
“The fact that he (Mr Bhasikiti) chickened out of the by-election has no bearing at all on what we have been doing and what we will do because our target is not him (Mr Bhasikiti) but our target is to surpass by far the 21 000 votes garnered by zanu-pf in the constituency (Mwenezi East) during the 2013 elections,’’ he said.
‘’We are targeting to double the figure we got in the last election and we will hold a rally at every polling station in Mwenezi East starting on April 1 (Saturday) and this shows how seriously we are treating this election,’’ he added.
Cde Baloyi said the ruling party wanted to send a clear message that Mwenezi District at large was a no go area for other parties ahead of next year’s elections.
“We want to show beyond doubt that Mwenezi is a zanu-pf stronghold, we are mobilising for 2018 elections and we want other parties to quiver when they start thinking about Mwenezi East in next year’s elections,’’ he added.
He said members of the ruling party’s provincial executive together with some Central Committee members in Mwenezi were spearheading the campaigns.
Cde Baloyi rubbished Mr Bhasikiti’s allegations that the ruling party was buying votes using food.
In his letter to ZEC chairperson Justice Rita Makarau, Mr Bhasikiti accused the electoral body of condoning alleged vote buying by zanu-pf ahead of the by-election.
However, prior to his withdrawal last week, Mr Bhasikiti-who is a former Masvingo Provincial Affairs Minister — had failed to hold even a single campaign rally due to infighting in the opposition party.