Seven battle for Zaka West seat

Gift Phiri

A RECORD seven Zanu PF hopefuls are vying for the Zaka West seat in a tightly contested primary election race that has already been marred by dirty politics.

erdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Sitting MP Jefta Chindanya is battling to shrug off a fierce challenge from a legion of businesspersons operating in Zaka district who are determined to replace him.

Self-exiled business tycoon Mutumwa Mawere’s older brother Vincent, his sister-in-law Mabel Mawere, Bonface Chivore, Joseph Chipato, Lovemore Mutandwa and Fred Makonese are vying for the Zaka West seat amid allegations of vote-buying and smear campaign tactics.

Zanu PF Masvingo provincial political commissar Admore Hwarare said he was aware that there were attempts by some candidates to use dirty tactics, including vote-buying, tribalism and regional issues to win votes.

Chindanya, who has been the MP for the area for the past three terms, is being accused by people in the area of prolonged absenteeism from the constituency and failing to come up with tangible programmes for the constituency. They also say he hardly contributes anything in House debates.

Chivore is a lecturer in the Faculty of Education at the University of Zimbabwe. He has participated in previous Zaka primary elections and lost two times in a row.

While people have in the past looked to him as a possible candidate, reports say there is increasing evidence that the electorate has lost confidence in him.

Fred Makonese, an agro-scientist at the University of Zimbabwe, has been campaigning vigorously, providing seed maize and other agricultural inputs at a subsidised price.

Makonese has been attempting to convince the electorate that he was ready to start playing a role in stimulating agricultural productivity as a way of strengthening the land reform programme.

Vincent Mawere has been a flip-flopping politician. He stood in the 2000 Zaka East primary election and lost to Tinos Rusere. During the 2000 parliamentary election, he contested as an independent and lost again.

Now he is seeking to reverse his misfortunes by contesting the Zaka West primaries. Mawere has business interests straddling the Zaka East and West divide.

However, Hwarare, who is also the Masvingo province disciplinary committee secretary, said Vincent Mawere would not be able to stand on a Zanu PF ticket.

“He will have to wait for five years before rejoining because he contested as an independent in 2000,” Hwarare said. “He can only stand on a Zanu PF ticket after the March election results.”

Mabel Mawere, a Zaka businesswoman with a chain of shops dotted around the Jerera and Zaka townships, is also gunning for the Zaka West seat. She is married to Conrad Mawere. Using the gender equality campaign card, Mabel has been attempting to convince the electorate that there is need for greater women’s representation in parliament.

Lovemore Mutandwa, a director of transport at the Zanu PF offices in Harare, is also determined to clinch the seat that is also being eyed by Joseph Chipato, the chairman of the Indigenous Freight Forwarders Association.

Hwarare said the party had proposed new vetting procedures that would be ratified at the congress this week including a requirement for a minimum of five “O” Levels and five years’ experience in party structures for all contenders. There will also be screening of candidates to ensure that they have no economic crime records.