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Desperate Zanu PF hopes to win Byo seats via court



ZANU PF, which has been banished by urban voters to the political Siberia of rural areas for more than two decades due to its disastrous leadership, bad governance and policy failures, has come under the spotlight over its bid to end that history by using the courts to win 12 parliamentary seats in the country’s second-largest city, Bulawayo.


The ruling party’s top official Patrick Chinamasa unwittingly exposed the plan when he warned that there would be legal action against the opposition Citizens’ Coalition for Change candidates in Bulawayo whom he claimed had filed their nomination papers after the 4pm deadline on 21 June.

Consequently, 12 Zanu PF activists went on to file a case at the Bulawayo High Court seeking cancellation of the candidatures of the 12 CCC candidates on the argument that they filed their Zec nomination papers after the stipulated 4pm deadline.

The 12 CCC candidates who allegedly filed after 4pm are Surrender Kapoikulu (Bulawayo Central), Minenhle Ntandoyenkosi Gumede (Bulawayo North), Nicola Watson (Bulawayo South), Raphael Sibanda (Cowdray Park), Collins Discent Bajila (Emakhandeni/Luveve) and Tshuma Dingilizwe (Entumbane/Njube).

The list also includes Prince Dube (Entumbane/ Njube), Dereck Gono (Lobengula/Magwegwe), Desmond Makaza (Mpopoma/Mzilikazi), Obert Manduna (Nketa), Desire Moyo (Nkulumane), Soneni Moyo (Pelandaba/Tshabalala), Gift Siziba (Pelandaba/Tshabalala), Sichelesile Mahlangu (Pumula) and Albert Mhlanga (Pumula).
Justice Bongani Ndlovu of the Bulawayo High Court has reserved judgement, but emphasised he will make a ruling based on the merits of the case.

Professor Welshman Ncube and Advocate Thabani Mpofu who represented the CCC candidates argued that the 12 Zanu PF activists were not physically at the nomination courts on the day they say papers were filed after 4pm and depended on social media.

They also argued that the 12 Zanu PF activists had not presented any sufficient evidence against the candidatures of the 12 CCC parliamentary aspirants.

Ncube particularly argued that the Zanu PF activists’ submissions were tantamount to fairytales and hearsay which could not be taken seriously by the courts.

In addition, Mpofu warned that the 12 activists were playing into the plan that Chinamasa had previously exposed of trying to scuttle the opposition party candidates in Bulawayo through the courts.

Lawyer Tawanda Kanengoni, who represented Zec, also strongly oppossed the 12 Zanu
PF’s submissions and reiterated that CCC candidates had filed their nomination papers above board and there was no valid reason to disqualify the from the 23 August elections.
Bulawayo has been an opposition stronghold since the 2000 parliamentary elections, held a year after the founding of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

2000 elections

The MDC, led by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, for the first time posed a serious threat to Zanu PF, winning 57 seats against Zanu PF’s 62, while the Ndabaningi Sithole-led Zanu Ndonga won a single seat, in the 2000 elections.

The MDC won seats in all Bulawayo constituencies, in a tight election that saw several Zanu PF bigwigs falling by the wayside.

The damage was not limited to Bulawayo, as heavyweights fell elsewhere, including Zanu PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa, who was memorably beaten by Blessing Chebundo.

In Bulawayo’s Makokoba constituency, current Small to Medium Enterprises minister Sithembiso Nyoni lost to Thokozani Khupe after garnering 2 196 votes against her 12 901.
In Bulawayo East constituency, the late Joshua Malinga (2 864 votes), suffered a heavy loss to Welshman Ncube who garnered 21 100 votes. Growing popularity of the opposition also saw respected leaders of the ruling Zanu PF falling by the wayside.

In the 2000 election, then politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa (3 644 votes), lost by a huge margin to the late MDC co-founding leader Gibson Sibanda who garnered 20 380 votes in Nkulumane.

After the election, many people openly told Dabengwa that they would have voted for him were he not representing Zanu PF.

More respected Zanu PF leaders lost out, with the late Sikhanyiso Ndlovu losing in Mpopoma and Norman Zikhali losing in Pumula-Luveve constituency.

2005 elections

In 2005, the MDC’s popularity continued to grow, with the party winning all seats in Harare and Bulawayo. Zanu PF candidates failed to garner 4 000 votes in all Bulawayo constituencies.

In Bulawayo East, the late Malinga lost again to Welshman Ncube, while Sithembiso Nyoni with 3 777 votes lost Bulawayo South to David Coltart who had 12 120 votes.

The late Absalom Sikhosana lost in Nkulumane to Gibson Sibanda, while the late Sikhanyiso Ndlovu lost in Pelandaba/Mpopoma to the MDC’S Milton Gwetu.

The opposition won despite heavy militarisation of the polls. Ex-military official Douglas Nyikayaramba had retired from the army to become chief elections officer of what was then called the Electoral Supervisory Commission (ESC).

He oversaw the chaotic 2002 and 2005 polls, which were underlined by serious violence, particularly in the countryside, where the MDC was making inroads.

2013 and 2018 elections

In 2013, the Tsvangirai-led MDC-T won all 13 constituencies in Bulawayo, shrugging off competition from Zanu PF and other opposition outfits.

However, in 2018, the opposition MDC-Alliance, led by Nelson Chamisa, won 11 out 12 constituencies in Bulawayo.

Zanu PF’s Rajeshkumar Modi became the first Zanu PF candidate to win a major seat in Bulawayo in over 18 years, after the MDC-Alliance had fielded two candidates in Bulawayo South constituency.

Modi’s win was marred by controversy, with MDC-Alliance candidate Muvirimi Mangwendeza alleging foul play.

He said on 3 July Zec allegedly published a malicious statement declaring that he had withdrawn from the race without his knowledge and verification. His name was also missing from the ballot paper upon inspection.

This saw several ballot books being removed from the constituency due to the error.
Zec also erroneously published an advertisement claiming that Mangwendeza had withdrawn from the election, which he never did.

2023 election

The party’s dominance in Bulawayo rests on the High Court decision. 

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