ZANU PF Mashonaland West has set out to retain seats in two local authority by-elections in Hurungwe and Banket to be held this Saturday, November 11, 2023.
The two vacancies arose following the death of Hurungwe West Ward 24 Councillor Pharaoh Kuerakana (Zanu PF), just after being sworn in early September, and Banket Ward 23 Zanu PF Councillor, Richard Muganhiri, who died four days before the August 23 harmonised polls.
In the impending plebiscites, Zanu PF will field Jerry Makumbe in Hurungwe’s Ward 24 who will square up against Ezekiel Kasirowe of Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) while in Banket Cecilia Muganhiri, widow to the late councillor, battles it out against CCC’s Manuel Chinhanzvavana, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)’s Enock Rabu Junior and independent candidate Pamela Gomani, a CCC renegade.
Speaking during two separate campaign rallies in Hurungwe West and Banket on Sunday and Monday, respectively, Zanu PF Mashonaland West Chairman, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka, appealed to the electorate to demystify the notion that during by-elections voters are apathetic, but come out in numbers to vote her party candidates.
“I urge all of us to desist from holding the long-held view that during by-elections people don’t turn out in large numbers. Let’s do away with this apathy and go and vote for tried-and-tested leadership.
“Zanu PF will retain its seat here in Ward 24 because the electorate is resolute of its support for President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa and his party.
“We don’t want to lose this council seat to the opposition, we have never heard of it, we are not going to do it and never shall. The ward has 4 800 registered voters and l understand on August 23 harmonised elections day we tallied 2 327, but expect more than that this time around,” said Mliswa-Chikoka.
Of the seven districts of Hurungwe Ward 24, she added, local leadership must be all hands on deck, use data from the voters’ roll to predict voting patterns and mobilise the electorate accordingly.
“Chairpersons must conduct scientific verification of the voters’ roll, have intelligence of how many people cast ballots at a particular polling station to ensure a resounding victory,” the Zanu PF chairman said.
Turning to Banket, Mliswa-Chikoka told the gathering at Kuwadzana Sports Court that the recently-held Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) delimitation exercise had negatively affected the Zanu PF demographics as the ward had become predominantly urban, but assured residents Zanu PF was ready to solve service delivery challenges in the farming town.
She said Zanu PF must take advantage of internecine strife that has engulfed CCC and its leader Nelson Chamisa that has witnessed self-styled Secretary General Sengezo Tshabangu unilaterally recalling Members of Parliament (MPs) and councillors.
Mliswa-Chikoka called on seven losing candidates in Zanu PF Banket primaries to bury the hatchet and rally behind Muganhiri’s candidature to guarantee overwhelming victory for the ruling party.
Banket is under the Zvimba North constituency whose MP is Marian Chombo, who doubles as Provincial Affairs and Devolution minister. Zanu PF has nine out of 10 wards in the constituency.
Perennially faced with crippling water crises, Banket Town Board falls under the purview of Zvimba Rural District Council which has 35 wards of which Zanu PF controls the majority.
Elsewhere across the country, by elections will also be held in Kusike, Nkayi and Vungu rural district councils.
Zanu PF Banket Ward 23 candidate Cecilia Muganhiri pleads for votes Monday at Kuwadzana Sports Court in Banket while flanked by party provincial chairman Mary Mliswa-Chikoka and Marian Chombo, Zvimba North MP and Provincial Affairs minister and other