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Zim elections: Prof Mthuli Ncube brings out big guns in star rally


News24


  • President Emmerson Mnangagwa holds the star rally in a constituency eyed by his finance minister in Bulawayo.
  • The CCC candidate says despite the big showing by Zanu-PF, the opposition will defend Cowdray Park.
  • Mnangagwa promised to solve Bulawayo’s water problems in his second term.

If last-minute vote buying in the form of road rehabilitation and things like free Wi-Fi can change voter attitudes, then Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF will register a notable increase in votes in areas that traditionally belonged to the opposition.

One such constituency is Cowdray Park in Bulawayo, the second largest city.

The township became a stand-alone constituency under the new delimitation boundaries adopted for the upcoming general elections.

Prior to that, it was in the Luveve constituency.

Cowdray Park is Bulawayo’s biggest township but remains largely underdeveloped, with no running water in most parts and some sections without electricity or roads.

Zanu-PF dispatched the finance minister, Professor Mthuli Ncube, to be its candidate there.

He has been hard at work making sure roads are tarred, a clinic built under an arrangement with a United Kingdom (UK) charity was completed, and he set up a free Wi-Fi hotspot for locals.

He also bought a house in the area, and the state media reported that Ncube had “adopted” the constituency.

His main rival is Pashor Raphael Sibanda, of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), who was born and raised in Cowdray Park.

Sibanda said he wasn’t a pushover, and it wouldn’t be easy for Ncube to win the seat.

He told News24:

In other parts of Bulawayo in past elections, Zanu-PF deployed financially capable people to run for it but all failed. I will walk into parliament.

 

Sibanda is one of the 12 CCC candidates challenged in court for allegedly submitting their nomination papers past the 16:00 deadline.

If the ruling against them stands, people will never know how a showdown between Ncube, an academic and government technocrat turned rookie politician, and Sibanda, a youthful local upstart, would have turned out.

Zanu-PF is not leaving room to chance.

Instead of holding the presidential star rally in one of the city’s big stadiums as tradition has it, the rally on Wednesday was at a school called Mkhithika Thebe Primary School.

Ncube hosted President Emmerson Mnangagwa, first lady Auxilia Mnangagwa, vice-president Constantino Chiwenga and other senior Zanu-PF officials.

The last star rally in Bulawayo was ahead of the July 2018 elections.

At the time, an unknown man threw a hand grenade at the VIPs, including Mnangagwa and Chiwenga, at White City Stadium.

They were lucky to escape alive.

Chiwenga’s wife at the time, Mary Mubaiwa, was injured.

To date no one has been held accountable; and the government has not spoken about the issue.

When Mnangagwa took to the podium at Mkhithika Thebe Primary School, he outlined what he said were his government’s achievements post-Robert Mugabe.

He added that his government was on a mission to develop Bulawayo.

“Under the second republic, we have plans to develop Bulawayo. Firstly, we want to make sure there is water.

“My first step was the Nyamandlovu Aquifer, my second step is building the Gwayi-Shangani Dam, once that is completed, you will say ‘bye bye’ to water challenges,” he said.

He also said that the Gwayi-Shangani Dam was 70% complete.

Mnangagwa said the opposition stood no chance against the Zanu-PF.

“The state house is very far. If they [the opposition] go to America, it will be much easier,” he said.

Some people who attended the rally said they were there for free food, while others went to avoid victimisation during the election period.

Some said they were tired of the opposition and wanted to see change for once, even if it meant Zanu-PF winning some seats in Bulawayo.

“The opposition has been taking advantage of us for some time now. Service delivery under them has gone bad. Maybe a wake-up call where they share the city with Zanu-PF will see to it that there’s competition to do better,” said Sibongile Khumalo, a vendor.





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