The Sunday Mail
Sunday Mail Reporters
Zanu-PF demonstrated once again that it is Zimbabwe’s most formidable political force after Cdes Auxillia Mnangagwa and Banwell Seremwe emphatically won Friday’s Chirumanzi–Zibagwe and Mt Darwin West National Assembly by-elections. Cde Mnangagwa polled 16 097, far more than Transform Zimbabwe’s Ms Rumbidzai Abigail Musambasi’s 456, independent candidate Mr Kamoti Chawaona’s 257 votes, Mr Dewan Godzamoyo’s (Good People’s Movement) 86 and Mr Munashe Mutodza’s (National Constitutional Assembly) 79.
There were 347 spoilt ballots.
In Mt Darwin West, Cde Seremwe coasted to a big victory, bagging 18 315 votes while Mr Kennedy Fungai of TZ got 302 and the NCA’s Mr Rueben Mafigu got 216.
The private media had tried yesterday to claim there was voter apathy, but the huge turnout gives the lie to that.
In the 2013 harmonised elections, Zanu-PF polled 17 996 votes in Chirumanzi-Zibagwe; and the ruling party bagged 22 877 votes in Mt Darwin West.
With turnout traditionally lower in by-elections than in harmonised polls, the number of votes cast on Friday was relatively high, indicating Zanu-PF’s ability to mobilise its supporters and the party’s widespread support within the electorate.
Addressing journalists after the victory, Cde Mnangagwa said: “We have won this election freely and fairly. This victory means a lot to me because this is the first time I am going to serve as a Member of Parliament. The people have sent a clear message that they love Zanu-PF and they have grown tired of fly-by-night political parties.
“There are so many of them at the moment and at times they are splitting, but what is clear is that they can never get close to catching up with Zanu-PF because it is a people’s party.”
Cde Mnangagwa – who is Zanu-PF deputy secretary for environment and tourism – added: “I am not going to rest. I am a hands-on person; I am going to go to every ward in the constituency to address the needs of the people. I will make sure that people in the constituency embark on projects such as piggery, poultry, carpentry and many other initiatives so that they can uplift their standards of living.
“I am also going to pursue a project that I am working on for a community bank in the constituency. To date, we have managed to pump in a revolving fund of US$120 000 into (it). This has helped people in the constituency to build houses, renovate their homes and embark on many other projects for their upkeep.”
At Dotito Growth Point, Zanu-PF national political commissar Cde Saviour Kasukuwere urged Cde Seremwe to “hit the ground running”.
“I have come here to congratulate the province and the party and above all, the candidate who is now MP-elect. Polling over 18 000 votes is not a joke, more so given that this is only a by-election. You have shown us that the people remain behind the party and we are going to be behind you as well.
“The people have done their part and now it is up to you to start work and deliver upon your promises. It is now time to deliver.”
Cde Seremwe told The Sunday Mail that constituency development was his foremost goal.
“I will continue working in the community to facilitate development and upliftment of the people. We have programmes that are already on-going and we intend to step up what we have already been doing for years with regards to building more schools, establishing irrigation schemes, developing our roads among other pressing issues facing the constituency.”
Mr Mutodza conceded defeat, saying the elections were conducted on a level playing field.
“The elections were free and fair. There were no incidents, intimidation or violence in the constituency. We were beaten clean by the Zanu-PF candidate. I never thought I would get all those votes (79). Actually, I thought I would only get two votes.”
The Chirumanzu-Zibagwe seat fell vacant when incumbent Cde Emmerson Mnangagwa was elevated to the post of Vice-President.
Mt Darwin West became vacant when Dr Joice Mujuru was appointed VP after the July 31, 2013 elections, a post she was fired from in December 2014.