By Masvingo/Manicaland Correspondents
THE ruling Zanu PF has wrestled the Nyanga South ward 26 seat from the MDC Alliance in a by-election which was held Saturday and retained Bikita Rural District Council ward 31 on the same day.
In Nyanga South, ward 26 won by the opposition in last year’s elections, was won by Zanu PF’s Bisset Mapeta who polled 396 votes against MDC Alliance Vincent Bopoto who secured 236 votes.
Ward 26 fell vacant after the death of MDC Alliance Councillor Ellius Mashumba. In Bikita, Zanu-PF’s Thomas Matanga polled 1112 votes against the MDC Alliance’s Moses Maposa who garnered 410. The seat fell vacant following the death of the ruling party’s Patrick Marozhe early this year.
The opposition immediately cried foul claiming vote buying and intimidation.
“We want to place it on record that the election environment is still characterised by closure of democratic space and abuse of State entities to the benefit Zanu PF.
“Our vice national chairman was arrested for statements made on the campaign trial. This creates barriers for free campaigns but more importantly the episode was meant to intimidate the people of Bikita,” said party secretary for elections Jacob Mafume.
Mafume cited the example of reports that Zanu PF’s national commissar Victor Matemadanda had requested for medicines to be delivered to clinics in Lupane East as part of a by-election campaign.
Zanu PF Manicaland provincial secretary for administration, Kenneth Saruchera confirmed the victory saying, this was clear evidence that the former liberation movement was still strong.
“The results are an indication that people still have confidence in the revolutionary party. Yes, we are in an economic situation but people are beginning to understand the direction the party is taking the country,” said Saruchera.
He added that “people are with the party”.
In May this year, MDC Alliance won the Mutasa constituency ward 10 by election.
The seat fell vacant after the MDC Alliance’s Frank Chitembwe was convicted of violence charges.
The Bikita ward by-election has attracted the most attention following the arrest of MDC deputy national chairman Job Sikhala for reportedly declaring President Emmerson Mnangagwa will be overthrown before scheduled elections in 2023.
Sikhala is currently in remand prison awaiting trial for subversion.