POLICE officers looked helpless as Zanu PF party supporters seized ballot boxes and burnt down ballot papers at the middle of a football pitch at Craiglea Secondary School, Zawe district in Macheke a few months ago.
BY JAIROS SAUNYAMA
It was during the Zanu PF primary elections as the electorate felt cheated after two candidates, Noah Mangondo and Michael Chifamba’s names were missing from the ballot papers.
It was the same story at Nyamita about 15km from Craiglea where voting could not take place take place as the party supporters demanded answers.
The election was not conducted in more than five wards amid reports that police officers at Dombwe were harassed by the angry party supporters.
This was the beginning of a storm that is currently sweeping across Murewa South constituency popularly known as Macheke. Zanu PF is restless following a move by Mangondo to go solo after the party failed to order a run-off despite the well-documented chaotic primary election.
Zanu PF’s Mashonaland East provincial chairperson Joel Matiza won with
1 278 votes with spoiled votes totalling 2 517.
In a bid to register their concern, Zanu PF supporters approached the politburo to address the irregularities, but their pleas fell on deaf ears.
Some war veterans and traditional leaders in the constituency joined hands with party members in appealing to the party leadership to chip in and at least order a re-run, but all was in vain.
The politburo was also reportedly served with a petition with 10 000 signatures of party supporters asking for justice, but were told to accept the election result despite other affected constituencies being ordered to conduct re-runs.
“As traditional leaders from 58 villages in Mukarakate area, we have been sent by party members in nine wards, Murewa South to deliver their grievances over the missing of other candidates’ names on ballot papers. The party members had to re-write names of their preferred candidates as directed by the national political commissar but the papers were considered as spoiled…” part of the petition directed to President Emmerson Mnangagwa read.
After realising their concerns had been ignored, a section of party supporters approached Mangondo and “begged” him to go solo.
There was jubilation outside the Marondera Court after ZEC provincial elections officer, Collins Munetsi read out Mangondo’s name as one of the candidates for the Murewa South parliamentary race.
Zanu PF supporters who had travelled from Mukarakate, Virginia and Nyamita, among other places, to the nomination court could not hide their joy as they knew that it was perhaps time for them to settle their political scores with the leadership.
“(Jonathan) Samkange did it in 2013. You cannot go against the will of the people. We have our independent candidate now, and if he wins, we will bring him back to the party,” one of the jubilant supporters said.
A prominent lawyer, Samkange was barred by former Zanu PF provincial chairperson Ray Kaukonde from contesting in Mudzi South.
Samkange filed as an independent candidate and won in Mudzi South with a wide margin before Zanu PF moved to re-admit him into the party.
The top lawyer garnered 7 879 votes ahead of then Zanu PF candidate Eric Navaya’s 7 742. Navaya later approached Zec asking for a recount, but was barred by the courts.
This paper attended three of Mangondo’s rallies where he attracted bumper crowds. His popularity has sent Zanu PF into panic mode, with the ruling party deploying emissaries into the constituency to plead with the people to vote against Mangondo.
Politburo members were the first to be deployed before war veterans and youth league executives to mobilise people to vote for Matiza.
A popular Zanu PF official in Macheke, Joseph Kamwendo, said the move by the supporters to rally behind an independent candidate was triggered by the party leadership’s failure to address their grievances.
“Party members are voting for the independent candidate because the party failed to address their grievances and there was imposition of candidates in Murewa South constituency.
The people of Murewa South constituency were short-changed by the party because one of the candidates was removed from the ballot paper, leaving only two candidates who did not enjoy the support of party members,” he said.
“It was the people of Murewa South constituency who requested Mangondo and other candidates for councillorship to contest as independents.”
Politics is a game of numbers, and judging by the 2013 trend in Mudzi South, Mangondo might brew a shocker and win as an independent candidate.