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Absence on the ground, poor messaging cost CCC in Tsholotsho

Interim chairperson of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in Matabeleland North, Prince Dubeko Sibanda, said the party lost the Tsholotsho South constituency to ZANU-PF due to poor messaging and its absence on the ground.

ZANU-PF’s Musa Ncube won the Tsholotsho South by-election with 4 758 votes defeating CCC’s candidate, Tapson Nganunu who polled 2 878.

ZAPU’s Leonard Mthombeni received 868 votes while independent candidate Bongani Moyo received 155.

Sibanda said that electoral defeat revealed that the opposition was failing to package and deliver its message also compounded by the fact that they were not on the ground, unlike ZANU-PF.

He, however, believes the opposition loss in Matabeleland does not signal politics is shifting in favour of the ruling ZANU-PF.

“In my view, I don’t believe Matabeleland is shifting ground. What is missing is the messaging. We need to get down to the people,” Sibanda said, who is also the designated MP for Binga North, during a Twitter space on By-Election Results and Matabeleland Voting patterns on Thursday evening.

Sibanda said he wanted to talk about Tsholotsho South as he was “especially involved” and for context highlighted a question asked by some.

“Why is Tsholotsho voting for ZANU-PF, when it was the epicentre of Gukurahundi? When we talk about Gukurahundi, the front runners who were mostly involved are Emmerson Mnangagwa and (Constantino) Chiwenga,” he said.

“Now understand why they never touched down in Tsholotsho, they couldn’t go there but had to send (Kembo) Mohadi who became the sacrificial lamb, to appear before tents as no people attended his meetings. Why did they not go to Tsholotsho South? It’s because they know they have issues with people of Matabeleland.”

But Sibanda acknowledged and reflected that CCC did not organise itself in Tsholotsho South, the way it ought to have.

“We didn’t mobilise enough. What people of Matabeleland lack is the messaging and the information. This is about the leadership getting down to the ground. In Binga North, we went to the ground, to almost every village, at each polling station where we had 20 volunteers that were spreading messages to say we are fighting against this,” said the politician.

“In Binga, we made sure we activated supporters, shared information to say, ‘this is why you are supposed to vote’ because of that we were able to win. I believe if we do that to the rest of Matabeleland, I am telling you there is no way ZANU-PF can get any constituency or any ward in Matabeleland.”

The CCC provincial leader highlighted ZANU-PF had the advantage of being a ruling party, with access to all resources.

“Their machinery is bigger, look at what they did in Binga, all over. They have structures, platforms to get information to everywhere. I’m quite sure if we can do that as the opposition, put up and pitch structures we will be able to reach everyone on the ground. ZANU-PF has no chance of winning in Matabeleland,” Sibanda said.

“That’s my belief. I strongly believe that even if they make their pronouncements like the one a few days ago that they are going to do something in Binga North, come 2023 we will beat them because we are grounded. We have structures. A needle can never fall in Binga North without me hearing it.”

Sibanda said the reason for his win in Binga was that his structures were a connected network, which is what was missing in Tsholotsho.

“Let’s look at the conduct of leaders of the opposition in 2000 in Matabeleland at that time and how they were interacting with the people. We cannot Bluetooth messaging to people in the rural areas or in Matabeleland. But we can have an advantage. Our major advantage is that there are a lot of grievances people of Matabeleland have against ZANU-PF and these are tangible, reasonable, justified,” he said.

“People of Matabeleland cannot vote for Mnangagwa, who killed people. There is no way they can vote for Chiwenga, a commander of the fifth brigade at that particular time. It is only a matter of us lacking as an opposition (by not) going down to the ground.”

Sibanda said he was remarking on this in his capacity as the interim chairman of the CCC in Matabeleland North.

“Honestly speaking, we could have done better in Tsholotsho South. We had the capacity to win. Look at how we have gone to increase our vote range compared to 2018 and the current one. It is possible, winnable,” noted the MP.

“I totally agree that at times the splits can have an issue (of dividing votes). If I can show you the split of 2018, look at areas where (Leader of one MDC-T faction, Dr Thokozani) Khupe got votes… that affected our victory in those constituencies. In those areas either Khupe took away the majority of structures.”

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