Dongo is back

Grace Kombora

MARGARET Dongo, leader of the opposition Zimbabwe Union of Democrats (ZUD) which disappeared from the political scene after losing the 2000 election, has hit the campaign trail for the March el

ection.


Dongo said in an interview on Wednesday that she would be contesting the Harare Central constituency as an independent.


She said her party would meet next week to choose other candidates to run in the parliamentary election as “independents”.


“We will release the names of candidates after our selection next week,” Dongo said. “Those selected will stand as independent candidates.”


Dongo, who represented the Sunningdale constituency as an independent from 1995 to 2000 after breaking away from Zanu PF, said ZUD members would stand as independents to avoid being sucked into partisan politics.


“Independent candidates are the think-tanks in the development of the country,” she said.


“An independent candidate cannot be whipped into line to vote against his or her conscience.”


In her campaign posters headed “Arise and Speak”, Dongo, who was a Zanu PF MP from 1990 to 1995, describes herself as a “fearless, tried and tested politician — a rock that defies the cruelty of political weather!”


The March election is expected to see a number of independent candidates largely due to internal problems in Zanu PF during the recent primary elections.


Some disgruntled Zanu PF officials could stand as independents after they were excluded from the primaries. Information minister Jonathan Moyo, who was barred from contesting in Tsholotsho, hinted at this when he said there were “many tickets to heaven”.


However, the poll is expected to be mainly a two-horse race between Zanu PF and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

ZUD, which came onto the political scene with a bang, disappeared after failing to win a single seat in the 2000 parliamentary election.


Dongo said ZUD had not collapsed but gone underground due to lack of funds and media coverage.


“The media does not give us enough coverage and that is why the party seemed to be defunct. The media perceive political parties as ice cream flavour. They mostly cover the biggest parties which can remove Mugabe and the flavour for 2000 was the MDC.”