BATTLE lines have been drawn between the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and the ruling Zanu PF in the Lupane constituency after other political parties failed to field candi
dates at the close of nominations this week in a by-election that could see another opposition setback.
The MDC’s Njabuliso Mguni and Zanu PF’s Martin Khumalo were the only registered candidates at the close of the nomination court in Lupane on Wednesday. Other political parties that include NAGG, Zapu and Liberty Party failed to field candidates.
Zanu PF and the MDC will square up for the second time this year following the bitterly fought Zengeza by-election which Zanu PF won.
Zanu PF is seeking to snatch its first seat in Matabeleland North from the MDC after it lost everything to the opposition in the 2000 parliamentary election. It is likely to use the same means as in Zengeza, observers said.
Bulawayo district registrar Shadreck Zvimba presided over the nomination court that sat at the Lupane magistrates court. There were no reported incidents of violence on the day of the nominations and the registration of candidates.
The Lupane seat fell vacant following the death of MDC MP David Mpala from wounds he sustained when ruling party mobs abducted and assaulted him in 2000.
The constituency polls are scheduled for the weekend of May 15/16.
Meanwhile, an MDC activist was allegedly abducted and heavily assaulted by war veterans at Lupane business centre last Wednesday resulting in clashes between the supporters of the opposition and the war veterans.
MDC district information and publicity secretary, David Nyathi, says Gerald Khumalo is now in hiding in Bulawayo after Lupane police came to their offices seeking to arrest him for fleeing with handcuffs belonging to the police. He had been handcuffed by the war veterans.
Nyathi said Zanu PF militia had been deployed in Lupane and were camped at Siziphile Primary School, at the DDF rest camp in St Paul’s, at Kusile Guest House, and at Mabhikwa Secondary School.