Nyanga Rural District Council Ward 26 and Bikita Rural District Council Ward 31 By-Election Update

On 29 May 2019, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) deployed observers to observe the Nyanga Rural District Council (RDC) Ward 26 and the Bikita RDC Ward 31 by-elections to be held tomorrow (13 July 2019). This update briefly presents the background to the by-elections and ZESN’s observations so far as informed by the observers’ reports.

Background to the By-elections

The Nyanga RDC Ward 26 was necessitated by the death of MDC Alliance Councillor, Elias Mashumba, while the Bikita RDC Ward 31 seat fell vacant following the death of ZANU-PF Councillor, Patrick Marozhe, in April.

Political Environment

To date, ZESN observers in both wards have reported that the environment is peaceful.

Primary elections

Both parties held primary elections to elect candidates for the by-elections. For the Bikita by-election, the MDC Alliance held primary elections at Mandadzaka Primary School on 29 May. ZANU-PF had held its primary elections earlier.

Nomination Court Sitting

The Nomination Court sat on 31 May to consider applications of nominees for the by-election. In the case of the Nyanga Ward by-election, Vincent Bopoto of the MDC Alliance and Bizel Mapeta of ZANU-PF were duly nominated while Thomas Mataga of Zanu-PF; Moses Maposa of the by MDC Alliance; and Peter Mavenga of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) were duly nominated for the Bikita Ward by-election. These are the candidates who will be contesting in the by-elections scheduled for tomorrow.

Political Party Activities and Campaigns

Political parties contesting in the by-elections held rallies, used door-to-door visits, and have posters as part of their campaign methods.

In Nyanga, ZANU-PF held three rallies in a day on 6 July 2019 which were attended and addressed by, among others, ZANU-PF Member of Parliament, Omega Hungwe; ZANU-PF Member of Parliament for the constituency, Supa Mandiwanzira; and the candidate, Bizel Mapeta. Mealie meal was reportedly distributed on partisan grounds by ZANU-PF on 3 July and Omega Hungwe allegedly said that for one to get maize they would have to vote for ZANU-PF come Election Day. Before the ZANU-PF rally started, MDC Alliance supporters moved around the venue in kombis distributing fliers for their candidate and later embarked on a door-to-door campaign on the same day. The MDC Alliance held its rally at the same venue the next day, 7 July. The rally was addressed by the party’s provincial officials Mr Mutseyi and Mrs Kuodza.

In Bikita, on 6 July, the MDC Alliance held a rally at Mandadzaka Shopping Centre. Amongst some who addressed MDC Alliance rallies in the Ward are the party’s National chairperson Thabitha Khumalo, National Organiser Amos Chibaya, Deputy National Organiser Happymore Chidziva, and the National youth Chairperson, Obey Sithole. On the same day, ZANU-PF supporters were gathered in their branches being given party regalia. ZANU-PF held a rally at Mandadzaka Shopping Centre on 10 July 2019 attended by Public Service, Labour and Social Welfare Deputy Minister Lovemore Matuke, Minister of State and Provincial Affairs for Masvingo Ezra Chadzamira and former Minister of State for Masvingo Province, Josiah Hungwe. Supporters were given food commodities such as rice and maize as well as the party’s regalia. Political party candidates also have posters around the ward as part of their campaign methods.

It is notable that on 4 June in Nyanga, ZEC met with ZANU-PF and MDC Alliance members, including the contesting candidates, and discussed the Code of Conduct for Political Parties, Candidates, and Other Stakeholders. Among other things, ZEC explained to parties conditions that would lead to the disqualification of a candidate. Another such meeting was held on 2 July with the same stakeholders in attendance. Party agents for the Nyanga by-election were trained by ZEC on 9 and 10 July. ZEC also briefed political party agents on their roles at the polling stations in Bikita.

Conclusion

ZESN has trained observers who will be deployed to polling stations in the Ward tomorrow and will be issuing periodic reports and proffer recommendations based on the observers’ reports.

Source: Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)