BULAWAYO’S oldest suburb and arguably the poorest in the city, Makokoba, has over the years seen several high-profile MPs come and go.
Notable people that have represented Makokoba include the late Sydney Malunga.
MDC-T vice-president Thokozani Khupe has held the seat since 2000, but she will not seek re-election as she believes she is now a national leader.
A section of the locals argue that meaningful development has elluded them, saying their representatives are not “natives” and do not have the constituency at heart.
However, some claim that politicians have viewed the constituency, which has a heavy population of the elderly, as a safe route to Parliament as they can be easily manipulated. The constituency has dilapidated infrastructure, accommodation challenges, vandalism and a high crime rate.
With the July 31 elections looming, the battle for the seat has intensified.
Seven candidates are eyeing Makokoba, Thabile Ndlovu (MDC), MDC-T provincial chairman Gorden Moyo, Zanu PF central committee member Tshinga Dube, Thomeki Dube (Alliance Khumbula Ekhaya), Zenzo Lot Masuku (Zapu), Patricia Ncube (FZC) and Harry Peter Wilson of MKD.
In a wide-ranging interview with Southern Eye on Monday, MDC’s Ndlovu said he was not moved by high profiles and financial muscles of Moyo and Tshinga Dube.
‘I’m in the race to win’
“I am in the race to win,” Ndlovu, who has business interests in the transport sector, vowed.
He has been on the campaign trail for the last three years and says he has created a strong bond with the electorate.
He said the community asked him to contest the seat.
Ndlovu’s main contact with constituents is through funerals.
“Over the last three years I have been engaging the community on various projects,” he said.
“For instance, many people die in the constituency every day and there are few burials that I have not participated in. I have been providing free transport and coffins.”
However, although he is confident of victory, he faces tough opponents.
Gorden Moyo has been shadow MP in the last term, but some claim he was imposed on the constituency and this may be his undoing.
On the other hand, Tshinga Dube is well-known for his deep pockets. In the last elections he splashed cash and goodies, but lost.
Ndlovu said the electorate “has wised up” and would not be easily bought.
“Makokoba has been unfortunate in that past representatives have little or no connection with it,” he said.
“Candidates just come and splash money and food on the eve of an election and hope to win. Times have changed and people have become cleverer than the politicians. They made their mind long back by asking me to contest.”
Ndlovu said the constituency, which is lagging behind in development, deserved someone who identifies with it through birth.
Once elected, Ndlovu said he would not impose development projects in the constituency, but would have a broad-based approach.
“Some of the projects will be on employment creation and reviving sporting infrastructure. Most youths are not employed and that’s worrying,” he said.
Asked on his chances of wresting away the seat in an area where his party leader Welshman Ncube failed, he blamed the Simba Makoni-led MKD association.
“Although Khupe got the seat, our association with Makoni, whose links with Zanu PF were still visible, cost Ncube the seat.
“However, times have changed and I am fully confident I will win.”