19 January 2014

Zimbabwe: Lovemore Madhuku's NCA Enters By-Election Fray

THE National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) tests the electoral waters on Saturday when they take part in by-elections.

Three wards will be going to the polls to elect office bearers in council by-elections following the deaths of incumbents who were elected on July 31 last year. The by-elections are slated for Harare Ward 12 in Sunningdale Constituency, Karoi Ward 10 in Hurungwe Central Constituency and Zaka Ward 32 in Zaka East.

In ward 12, Harare, NCA candidate Garikayi Takura will square off with Maureen Nyemba of Zanu PF, Albert Mponda of MDC-T and Jack Ethen Muzanenhamo, an independent candidate.

Zaka will see Elias Budi Mutava of MDC-T squaring off with Zanu PF's Togarepi Toruvanda and NCA's Enock Chikamhi. In Karoi town, Solomon Chiwaya Musekiwa of the mainstream MDC-T will fight it off with Fortunate Madamombe of Zanu PF.

NCA said it had covered a lot of ground in Zaka and Harare where the party was campaigning door-to-door.

NCA spokesperson, Madock Chivasa said the party received hard copies of the voters' roll on Friday.

But Chivasa said the party was not happy that no one was arrested for the recent incident of violence in Mbare where three of their members were assaulted, allegedly by suspected Zanu PF activists.

He said NCA supporters in Zaka were also facing a lot of intimidation from Zanu PF supporters.

Zanu PF spokesperson, Rugare Gumbo said he was currently on leave and referred questions to party national commissar, Webster Shamu who could not be reached for comment.

ZEC officials could also not be reached for comment yesterday.

Last year's election was marred by several inconsistencies, including the absence of an electronic voters' roll, the unusually high number of assisted voters, abuse of registration slips and bussing of voters.

A local poll watchdog, the Election Resource Centre (ERC) said as Saturday approaches, the pre-election period indicated that there was still need to improve on some processes that have in the past affected the credibility of previous voting.

The ERC said it was yet to hear of political parties which have been furnished with an electronic voters' roll.

"This remains a sticky and outstanding issue that needs to be implemented and carried through to improve on the fairness and credibility of elections," said ERC director, Tawanda Chimhini.

He said with a few days to go before the by-election, there was no extensive voter education taking place to ensure that voters in the respective wards effectively participated in the polls.

Chimhini said lack of clear and detailed information on ballot printing and distribution meant that transparency was abridged. He said lack of publicity and voter awareness in the mainstream media had the effect of causing voter apathy.

The ERC said as the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) prepares to conduct Saturday's by-elections, it was important that they take stock of the shortcomings that have been observed in the preceding elections, and take corrective measures for the coming elections.

"Learning from past mistakes and oversights is an indicator of the electoral body's willingness to learn and its desire to increase confidence in Zimbabwe's electoral system," said the electoral watchdog.

Raising concerns with ZEC a waste of time: Mwonzora

MDC-T spokesperson, Douglas Mwonzora said conditions have not improved from that of pre-July 31 elections.

"The elections will not be free and fair, but we are participating because of our respect for the electorate," he said. Mwonzora alleged there was intimidation of non-Zanu PF supporters in the three areas, while food and inputs were also being used to buy votes.

He alleged that in Zaka, local village heads and traditional leaders were being used to mobilise people to vote for Zanu PF.

But Mwonzora said his party has not raised complains with ZEC because it was a "worthless enterprise" to do that as the electoral body was powerless.

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