ZAPU believes the biggest lesson it learnt as a political party from the just ended by-elections held Saturday, was that Zimbabweans vote more for candidates who are likely to win than the value they may offer to the electorate.
It is for this reason, the mother party, highlighted that this voting pattern is a red flag in Zimbabwean politics, as it promotes incumbents back into power who offer little change.
ZAPU fielded two National Assembly candidates in Tsholotsho South (Matabeleland North) and Pumula (Bulawayo) constituencies while it had seven candidates running for council seats in Magwegwe, Njube/Lobengula, Mzilikazi/Makokoba, Ward 20 in Insiza North and Ward 7 in Gwanda Central.
The party failed to win a single seat but acknowledges it has to find ways to be more attractive to people.
In an interview with CITE, ZAPU National Spokesperson, Msongelwa Ndlovu said the party was “naturally” disappointed that it lost but had made incremental growth in all areas they contested.
“We wish to, first and foremost, thank all those who voted for ZAPU. Secondly, we congratulate the winners as this was a contest not a war,” he said.
Ndlovu said the biggest lesson ZAPU learnt is that Zimbabweans vote less on the value propositions but more on proximity to power.
“They are attracted more to incumbency and those with a realistic chance of becoming incumbent. As much as that is a big red flag for us, we have to adapt or die,” he said, noting their biggest challenge was lack of resources.
“We achieved the vote tally we have with a zero budget. But going into 2023 we are certain of a better showing.”
The party spokesperson claimed ZAPU was growing in numbers but more needed to be done to grow its support base.
“In Tsholotsho for example, in 2018 we garnered 487 votes or 3.4 percent of the total vote. In this by-election, we garnered over 800 votes or 11 percent of the vote. This is despite the lack of resources and evident voter apathy,” said the spokesperson who added the polls showed that ZAPU is now the third biggest political party in Zimbabwe.
“We also effectively became the third biggest political party based on results of areas we contested. We defeated parties like MDC-T or the MDC Alliance who enjoy state funding through the Political Parties Finance Act. In some wards such as Insiza Ward 20, we beat CCC as well as in Mbamba in Tsholotsho.”
While some political parties were holding rallies across the country for the March 26 by-elections, ZAPU had a different strategy of reaching out to the electorate, which was interacting directly.
“People must also understand that we’re enjoying the momentum of growth under the able leadership of President Sibangilizwe Michael Nkomo, but most of our people who registered through his efforts were not eligible to vote in these by-elections. So, this by-election was a seed planted. 2023 we are ready for a bumper harvest,” Ndlovu summed.