3 candidates successfully file nomination papers to contest Chinhoyi Ward 4 by-election

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By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent

THREE candidates have successfully filed nomination papers to contest in the upcoming March 9 by-election to fill the Chinhoyi Ward 4 council seat.

The position fell vacant after the High Court sitting at Chinhoyi overturned the victory of Archibold Muzanenhamo, who was declared winner during the August 23 and 24 harmonised elections.

Muzanenhamo, also known as Nyazamba, is running as an independent and will square off against his arch rival Ignatius Zvigadza of Zanu PF, who mounted the court challenge that resulted in reversal of results.

Another independent candidate, lgnatius Blessed Chari, is joining the fray as a dark horse.

Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) Makonde district elections officer, Shepherd Kawocha confirmed the results of the Nomination Court that sat last week pending by elections.

“By elections for Chinhoyi Ward 4 are to be conducted on Saturday March 9, 2024 since there were more than two duly nominated candidates.”

He urged candidates to campaign peacefully until midnight of  March 7, 2024.

“We will conduct our voter education as from March 1, 2024 up to March 5, 2024 and it is up to the electorate to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Kawocha added.

In August 2023 polls, Muzanenhamo stood as an independent candidate in protest over the shambolic candidate selection process in the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) party, of which he was a member.

The youthful politician went on to annihilate then immediate past Ward 4 councillor Zvigadza in a surprise triumph that shocked the local body politick. He became the only independent councillor in Chinhoyi Municipality.

In an unprecedented move, Zvigadza launched a court challenge arguing Muzanenhamo engaged in vote buying and mobilised supporters at his business premises located within a 300-metre radius from a polling station in clear violation of the Electoral Act.

In his notice of opposition papers filed at the High Court, Muzanenhamo denied ever buying prospective voters soft drinks and alcohol at his shop or liquor store.

“The announced results represent the true will of the electorate as there were no such alleged irregularities as alleged by the petitioner.

“There was no vote buying as alleged, at no point did l canvas for votes on election day, either 300 metres of Chengetanayi Old People’s Home polling station or outside the said 300 metres,” Muzanenhamo submitted.

He disputed that his grocery shop was open solely to distribute soft drinks and beer to prospective voters.

“I opened the shop as usual for the purposes of selling groceries to customers. The same applies to the bottle store which l opened. I never distributed soft drinks and beer to voters as alleged.

“The petitioner must, at least, provide the full names of the alleged persons whose votes l allegedly bought. He must also provide supporting evidence from such persons confirming that indeed l bought their votes.

“He must provide evidence that the persons who came to my shop on the election days are indeed registered voters; more importantly for Ward 4 Chinhoyi and that they voted on the material dates.”

Chinhoyi High Court Judge Philda Muzofa ruled that there be a fresh poll to choose a ward representative as the evidence pointed to electoral malpractices.

Resultantly, a by-election is now scheduled in the swing ward that perennially shifts allegiance between Zanu PF and the opposition, depending on the quality of candidates.

Zvigadza, who has occupied the councillor seat before, is confident of bouncing back.

“The people of Hunyani, Federation and Infill are actually regretting why they voted Muzanenhamo in the last election. Service delivery has deteriorated, the clinic is operating without a roof since it was blown off by a hailstorm in November.

“Sewer bursts are taking a month to be repaired, illegal dumps have proliferated and there has not been a single feedback meeting from the councillor. As for the other candidate, Chari, is virtually a nonentity and l shall not waste time talking about him. I am reclaiming Ward 4,” Zvigadza told in an interview.