Zanu-PF takes early poll lead

Zanu-PF has taken an early lead in the 2018 harmonised elections after some of the party’s candidates submitted nomination papers unopposed.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission Matabeleland South provincial election officer Mr Rabson Nyoni said four Zanu-PF council candidates in the province submitted their papers unopposed and will, according to the Electoral Act, be declared duly elected councillors as of July 30, 2018.

Sibongile Chauke was unopposed in Beitbridge Rural District Council Ward 13, while in Matobo North constituency, Tobias Sibanda, Thomas Ncube and Paul Ncube sailed through unopposed in Wards 22, 23 and 24 respectively.

“It means with effect from 30 July they will be duly elected councillors, according to the law. For now, they remain just candidates,” said Mr Nyoni.

Zanu-PF has all but secured a National Assembly seat too, after the MDC Alliance, touted by pundits as the closest thing to a challenger to the ruling party, failed to find a candidate to compete against Cde Farai Taruvinga in Insiza North.

In an interview, Taruvinga said: “We have already begun meeting our obligations as a party. It is all evident in our work. The people are happy and thus we are confident they will make the right choice when the time to vote comes.

“They (MDC Alliance) fumbled a lot and couldn’t field a candidate. Their factional fights show that they are not united and this is why they even failed to have a candidate contesting. Even in their presence . . .  I felt no threat as I know that the people of our constituency will rally behind us. Now is the time to work and rebuild our country. Together we can, divided we fall.”

The MDC Alliance, led by Mr Nelson Chamisa, fielded more than one candidate in some constituencies and wards.

This was because Mr Chamisa reportedly imposed candidates in constituencies that had been reserved for his alliance partners.

Preliminary figures from ZEC show that a record number of candidates will contest the forthcoming harmonised elections.

More than 200 National Assembly candidates successfully filed their nomination papers for the 12 constituencies in Bulawayo Province, translating to an average of 18 candidates per constituency.

ZEC Bulawayo provincial elections officer Mr Innocent Ncube said while the verification process to come up with the final list was ongoing, indications were that the figures were unprecedented.

Four candidates had their papers rejected for various reasons, chief among them failure to secure the required number of nominations.

Mr Ncube said Magwegwe and Pumula constituencies recorded the highest number of National Assembly candidates at 24, while the lowest had 15.

He attributed the high numbers to the new political dispensation, where citizens have greater latitude to exercise freedom of expression and association.

“We are glad that we opened for nomination papers a bit earlier. That helped us a lot in easing the pressure because a number of candidates heeded the call to submit their papers early.”

Mr Ncube said for local government seats, more than 300 candidates successfully submitted their papers for the 29 wards in Bulawayo.

In Matabeleland North province, 156 National Assembly candidates were successfully nominated to contest the province’s 13 constituencies. Sixty-seven candidates will contest provincial council seats and 49 Senate seats.

Four National Assembly candidates had their papers rejected.

In Matabeleland South, 99 National Assembly candidates successfully filed their nomination papers across the 13 constituencies; while more than 500 did so for local government seats.