Zanu PF wins local authority by-elections

Zanu PF won five of the six rural district council by-elections held on Saturday in different parts of the country, according to preliminary results released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC).

The by-elections were being held in Insiza Ward 4, Matobo Ward 2, Buhera Ward 24, Mutare Ward 18, Takawira Ward 6 in Midlands and Guruve Ward 4.

CCC managed to win in Mutare ward 18 where Blessing Murindashaka polled 711 votes against Zanu PF’s Loveness Chiwasira who got 478 votes and Nyasha Machekeche of NCA got 18 votes.

In Insiza and Matobo both in Matabeleland South, the by-elections were preceded by political violence where suspected Zanu PF supporters attacked Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) members while they were conducting party business.

Bulawayo proportional representation MP Jasmine Toffa is currently receiving treatment at a private health facility in Bulawayo after she sustained serious injuries during the attack where cars were also damaged.

In Insiza, Zanu PF’s candidate Daniel Dube won by 578 votes beating Augustine Gumede of CCC who was forced to go into hiding a week before the elections after his homestead where one of the meetings was being held was attacked by the suspected Zanu PF members.

Gumede polled 415 votes.

In Matobo, where three candidates were vying for the seat, Zanu PF’s Fadreck Siwela won by 934 votes with Sindiso Ngwenya of CCC receiving 270 votes and Liberty Nyirongo of Zanu PF only managing a paltry 25 votes.

The opposition may point at the political violence and the setting up of exit poll survey desks a short distance from polling stations by the ruling party as a strategy to intimidate voters.

CITE news crews which covered the elections in both wards reported seeing voters visiting the desks soon after casting their ballot where their details were taken down.

In their statement, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) who had teams observing the by-elections pointed out that ZEC and the police were forced to act on the Zanu PF desks.

“As of midday, the political environment in some wards was reported to be peaceful, while a few incidents were observed and reported by the observers.  For example, at 0800hrs, at Sikhamaswe polling station in Matobo Ward 2, ZANU-PF members allegedly mounted a desk with ZANU-PF regalia and banners on exhibition less than 300 metres away from the polling station.

A few youths were reportedly manning the desk and after voting some people were allegedly passing through the desk. After one hour, ZEC mobile supervisor officials and officers of the ZRP intervened and dismissed the grouping outside the polling station area and also removed a ZANU-PF poster which was within the polling station area,” the report read.

“At Tudi Primary School, Matobo, the situation was reportedly tense as people were slowly gathering in groups away from the polling station after voting. However, as of midday, there was no incident of violence or rowdy behaviour reported.”

The focus will now shift to the Binga, Victoria Falls and Gweru by-elections which will be held in early December. ZEC last week announced that any seat that becomes vacant after 1 November 2022 will be contested during the 2023 general elections which are likely to be held in July or August.

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