The outcome of the Bulilima by-election results, in which the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) wrestled two seats from Zanu PF has thrust former Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Thokozani Khupe back to the limelight for her grassroots campaigning acumen.
On Saturday, CCC won two of the three council seats in the Bulilima Rural District Council by-elections – Ward 1 and Ward 16.
In Ward 1, CCC’s Ephraim Moyo polled 385 votes beating Zanu PF’s Kossam Phapha Ndlovu who had 315 votes.
The other contestant, Dalton Moyo of the People’s Patriotic Party (PPP) settled for 12 votes and Lingiwe Nyoni of the Constitutional Generation for Change (CGC) managed a paltry seven votes.
The Nelson Chamisa-led opposition also won in Ward 16, after Makhadi Moyo collected 131 votes, 18 more than Zanu PF’s Jane Moyo, while Hitman Ncube of ZAPU polled 34 votes.
However, Zanu PF retained Ward 14, as Experience Dube was declared the winner with 459 votes, compared to 332 votes of Ephraim Moyo of CCC and Linos Moyo from ZAPU who managed 18 votes.
While not mentioning names, Chamisa thanked the ‘ground forces, the change champions’ for delivering victory for the party.
Analysts said one of the emerging factors of CCC’s victory in the Bulilima East by-elections is Dr Khupe’s grassroots campaign acumen – consulting locals directly rather than having rallies.
Initially, the former deputy prime minister was viewed with suspicion when she joined CCC
Ever since Dr Khupe publicly endorsed support for CCC, she has been campaigning for the party mostly in rural communities.
Khupe also led a team to campaign for the party ahead of the Bulilima by-election.
“Thokozani Khupe has once more proven her political mantle. She is a practical politician, a true grassroots politician who knows how to mobilise votes en masse. She proves that in as much as the opposition keeps having its rallies disrupted, maybe it should think of other ways of mobilising like house to house or smaller intense meetings of talking to voters and convincing them,” said Khanyile Mlotshwa, a critical studies scholar.
“Khuphe has shown that she is an imaginative politician bringing back the MDC magic under Tsvangirai of a people-centred politics, rather than the technocratic politics of these days.”
Mlotshwa said Dr Khupe returned Ward 1 and 16 to the opposition in an area where Zanu PF had asserted its dominance.
“CCC should acknowledge MaKhupe’s hard work, especially if you take into account that CCC recently lost a by-election where (party leader Nelson) Chamisa campaigned. The party must pray that she and other campaign members replicate the magic next year in the national elections,” he pointed out.
Political analyst, Patrick Ndlovu, noted the former MDC-T leader had to work to prove her worth to the party’s cause.
However, Ndlovu highlighted that politics should be locally focused.
“Political parties especially these opposition parties who call themselves dominant fail to adopt this focus and in their approach to politics, mobilise themselves around personalities and not issues that affect local people. At least Dr Khupe seems to be learning that and maybe with this victory, maybe the CCC party will accept her wholeheartedly,” he said.