VOTER apathy and accusations of irregularities marred Wednesday’s by-elections across the country, as Zanu PF made a comeback in Bulawayo after a 15-year hiatus.
BY SILAS NKALA/NQOBANI NDLOVU
There was a low turnout at most polling stations in Bulawayo, while independent observers cited poll irregularities in Tsholotsho North, where Information minister Jonathan Moyo won.
Zanu PF won all five seats contested in Bulawayo, winning a constituency in the city for the first time since 1995 general elections.
But political commentators said amid the euphoria of the party’s win, there is little it will do to improve the lives of the people of the region.
Political commentator Methuseli Moyo said Zanu PF’s victory was of no political consequence.
“Zanu PF was the governing party anyway, and the result of the by-election will not result in any change in the governance of the country or the city,” he said.
“This victory is only relevant to the new MPs because they will now join the gravy train.
“There is nothing for the people to celebrate.”
Moyo said he feared Zanu PF would now use its new-found political clout in Bulawayo to undermine the local authority.
“However, I can bet with my last cow that the Zanu PF victory in Bulawayo will be reversed in 2018,” Moyo said.
“The real winner in the by-election was apathy; the turnout in Bulawayo said it all.”
South Africa-based political analyst Trust Matsilele said Zanu PF would not change anything in Matabeleland.
“Zanu PF should be ashamed of the outcome, especially voter apathy which resulted from leadership deficit at the executive level,” he said.
Matsilele said MDC-T, which has been campaigning for “no elections without reforms”, faced a real test, as Zanu PF would keep grabbing spaces previously in the hands of the opposition.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn) observed voter apathy in most urban centres, compared to rural polling stations.
The organisation raised concerns that there were police officers inside polling stations, a violation of the Electoral Act.
“Furthermore, observers witnessed police personnel being actively involved in assisting voters,” Zesn noted.
“This practice goes against international best norms and standards, where the role of the police is limited to maintaining law and order.”
In Makokoba in Bulawayo, Tshinga Dube received 1 667 votes beating Sibangilizwe Msipa of Transform Zimbabwe who got 265 votes, Jonathan Ndlovu of Zapu got 164, Joan Dlodlo, an independent, got 31, Marble Ngwenya, an independent, got two, Sehlelo Nkomo, an independent, got 24 and Wilson Harry Peterson, an independent, had 21 votes.
In Pelandaba-Mpopoma, Joseph Tshuma of Zanu PF got 2 050 beating Andrea Banda of TZ who got 67, Sokhaya Mabhena of the National Constitutional Assembly got 14, Vusumuzi Mabhikwa, an independent, got 61, Strike Mnkandla of Zapu got 726 and George Mkwena, an independent, who got 109 votes.
In Lobengula, Maidei Mpala of Zanu PF won 1 976 votes beating Jane Mbewe of Freedom Front Party who got 51, Njabuliso Mguni, an independent, got 301, Mhike Leonard Tawanda of TZ got 33 and Casper Sibanda of Zapu got 492 votes.
In Luveve, Ntandoyenkosi Mlilo of Zanu PF received 1 765 beating Willias Dube, an independent, who got 120, Morgan Ntuli of NCA got 28, Amon Nyamambi Dube of Zapu got 562, Mkhululi Nyathi, an independent, got 522, Thubelihle Sibanda, an independent, got 199 and Fanuel Tshuma of TZ got 35 votes.
In Pumula Godfrey Malaba Ncube of Zanu PF got 2 477 beating Lunga Jackson, an independent, who got 23. Morrison Maluso of TZ got 73, Albert Mhlanga, an independent, got 134, Bathandi Michael Mpofu of Zapu, got 777, Misheck Ncube, an independent, got 89 and Ntandoyenkosi Ndlovu, an independent, had 24 votes.
In Tsholotsho North, Moyo got 11 695 beating Busani Ncube who got 91 and Getrude Sibanda who had 38 votes.