ONE of the major takeaways of the 26 March by-elections is that although the Nelson Chamisa-led Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) performed remarkably well for a newly formed party, it still has a lot of work to do in terms of mobilising supporters for voter registration and ensuring that they actually vote.
The party scooped 19 of the 28 Parliamentary seats and also won 75 of the 125 council seats on offer.
While Chamisa said the victory was testimony to the fact that his party is a legitimate political alternative, analysts said the 44-year-old leader must be worried about the disconnect between the massive crowds he addressed on the campaign trail across the country and the low voter turnout. This means the party has its work cut out in convincing supporters to vote.
Voter turnout in the election was significantly low, ranging between 250 and 300 voters per polling station where over 800 people are registered to vote.
At the polling station where Chamisa voted, Kuwadzana 2 Primary School, just over 200 people out of 856 registered voters had cast their ballots by 5pm.
But from the polling station, Chamisa walked to the nearby shopping centre where he was swarmed by hundreds of ecstatic supporters who far exceeded the numbers of those who had voted.
Political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said Chamisa and his party ought to strategise beyond rallies.
“CCC will need to marry crowds with votes,” he said.
Zanu PF won big in the constituencies that it claimed while the CCC won but with narrower margins, with analysts saying this could be a recipe for disaster for a party that entertains hopes of winning the presidential race next year.
Pedzisai Ruhanya, an analyst with the Zimbabwe Democracy Institute (ZDI), said the CCC should do more towards mobilising the rural vote.
“They have to improve their rural strategy,” Ruhanya said.
“Apart from Binga, you would realise that they lost Mutasa, they lost in Gokwe. So it appears that not much has changed in terms of their inroads into the rural areas. So the rural becomes a key area where the CCC must work, particularly addressing the issue of fear and patronage and the role of traditional leaders. Traditional leaders are supposed to be neutral.”
Ruhanya added that the party must ensure it wins by large margins in its urban strongholds.
The CCC won in Highfield West, St Mary’s, Glen Norah, Kambuzuma, Mufakose, Harare East, Mkoba, Pumula, Binga North, Nkulumane, Harare Central, Kwekwe Central, Mbizo, Kuwadzana East, Kuwadzana, Dangamvura-Chikanga, Glen View North and Highfield East.
Zanu PF managed to grab Epworth and Mutasa South from the opposition while retaining Chivi South, Gokwe Central and five other constituencies.
Analysts said inroads made by the ruling Zanu PF into constituencies such as Epworth and Mutasa South showed that opposition “strongholds” are not guaranteed and more work should be put in working with communities on the ground.
In their reports, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) and Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn) said traditional leaders were used to coerce voters into casting their ballots in favour of the ruling party.