A TOTAL of 244 independent candidates are vying for National Assembly seats in the forthcoming July 30 general elections, indicating deep-seated internal rifts and turbulent democratic practices in both the ruling Zanu PF and main opposition MDC Alliance.
By Wongai Zhangazha
An Extraordinary Government Gazette published on June 22 lists an unprecedented number of independent candidates, most of whose roots are in Zanu PF and the opposition MDC Alliance. Some of the candidates filed their papers in protest at how primary elections were conducted within Zanu PF and MDC-T, while some members of the MDC Alliance stood as independent candidates after MDC-T seconded candidates in constituencies reserved for partners.
Last week, both Zanu PF presidential candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC-T president Nelson Chamisa, who is also the MDC Alliance presidential candidate, issued ultimatums for the “rebels” to withdraw their candidature or risk expulsion. Addressing a Zanu PF rally in Harare South last week, Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga hinted that rebels who dare defy the party’s directives might end up in prison. MDC-T has expelled 25 members for going against the instruction to withdraw their candidature by June 22.
Mbizo constituency in Kwekwe has the highest number of independent candidates with seven.
Bulawayo’s Magwegwe constituency, where 21 candidates are jostling for office, has six independent candidates.
Apart from the independents, the MDC Alliance is also faced with the headache of double candidates in some constituencies.
In Bulawayo South constituency, Kunashe Muchemwa filed under the MDC Alliance banner, while Francis Mangwendeza also filed on the same ticket in the constituency where 16 candidates are vying for the seat. Harare South has two MDC Alliance candidates contesting against each other, namely Shadreck Mashayamombe and Samuel Saurombe. In Mazowe North, two MDC Alliance candidates — Stephen Muchenje and McMillan Ndlovu — are contesting, while Mazowe South also has Gamuchirai Chakwera and Gift Chimanikire contesting.
Mazowe West has two MDC Alliance candidates, namely Thamarie Chimanzi and Muchihwa Rorana.
Muzarabani North constituency will see two MDC Alliance contestants battling each other and against other political parties as well as in Goromonzi West constituency, where Chamisa’s outgoing spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka was challenged by Clifford Nhamburo.
Goromonzi West Zanu PF MP Biata Nyamupinga, who lost in the primaries, is contesting the constituency as an independent candidate.
In Bikita East, two MDC Alliance candidates are vying for the constituency, namely Bornface Mudzingwa and Jacob Ngarivhume. Ngarivhume is the president of Transform Zimbabwe, one of the political parties constituting the MDC Alliance.
Gutu Central has two MDC Alliance candidates in Ernest Mandigo and Crispa Musoni while Gutu North has Juniel Manyere and Edmore Maramwidze. Gutu West has Stanley Manguma and Knowledge Mupini both representing MDC Alliance.
Justin Makota and Lovemore Matongo will represent the MDC Alliance in Masvingo South constituency while Zaka West has Festus Dumbu and William Zivenge.