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report on Chiredzi parliamentary by-election
Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN)
February 16, 2007
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The Chiredzi South parliamentary by-election, which the Zimbabwe
Election Support Network (ZESN) will be observing, will be held
on the 17th of February 2007. The by-election will be
held following the death of the then Member of Parliament Aaron
Baloyi in September 2006.
candidates will contest this election These are: Callisto Gwanetsa
of ZANU PF, Immaculate Makondo of the anti-senate MDC, Nehemiah
Zanamwe of the pro-senate MDC and the United Peoples’ Party (UPP)
Miyethani Chauke. Whereas The Herald and other media reports have
portrayed Gwanetsa as a retired soldier the president of the council
of chiefs Chief Fortune Charumbira, at a ZANU PF campaign meeting
at Chilonga Primary School, disclosed that he is still a serving
soldier. Makondo is a local businesswoman while Zanamwe once stood
as an independent candidate in the same constituency during the
2005 general election. Chauke is based in Masvingo where a telecommunications
company employs him.
was chosen to represent ZANU PF after winning a primary election
in which he beat three other candidates. Makondo was chosen to represent
the anti-senate MDC without going through a primary election. She
lost the 2005 election to Baloyi while on the united MDC’s ticket.
Although Chauke is based in Masvingo Chiredzi South is still his
the election campaign has been peaceful Chief Fortune Charumbira
has allegedly made disturbing comments in which he has threatened
opposition supporters with eviction from the constituency should
they vote for the parties of their choice.
alleged statements by Chief Charumbira are unconstitutional, illegal
and in gross violation of human rights. These statements violate
the following laws and regional and international standards. The
of Zimbabwe section 23 protects all citizens against discrimination
on the various grounds, one of which is political opinion. It is
also a serious criminal offence in terms of section 134 of the Electoral
Act to use undue influence to induce or compel any person to
vote or refrain from voting. The Administrative Justice Act provides
in section 3 that administrative authorities have a duty to act
lawfully, reasonably and in a fair manner. The SADC
Principles and Guidelines Governing Democratic Elections require
political tolerance and freeness and fairness in the electoral process.
The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights provides
in Article 24 that every citizen has the right and opportunity to
have access, on general terms of equality, to public service in
his country, without distinction on the ground of political opinion
and without unreasonable restrictions.
ZANU PF candidate has argued that it would be prudent to vote for
him arguing that the relations he already enjoys with government
would make it easier for him to address the constituency’s problems.
The use of food as a campaign tool has also been a central issue
in this election. Chiredzi South is a drought prone constituency
that often relies on food aid from organizations such as World Vision.
The Grain Marketing Board also sells maize to villagers who can
afford to buy it. The food shortages and the high illiteracy levels
have left the electorate prone to political manipulation.
issues have also dominated the election. Almost eighty percent of
the constituency is Shangani while the remainder includes the Karanga.
Of the four contestants only Gwanetsa is Karanga while the others
are Shangani. Chiredzi South has traditionally been a ZANU PF stronghold.
ZANU PF’s supporters might therefore be in a rare catch 22 situation
in which they might have to decide whether to choose party or tribal
allegiances. This is the first time that ZANU PF will be fielding
a Karanga candidate in this predominantly Shangani constituency.
stakes in this election are high for both the ruling party and the
opposition. In view of the constitutional amendments that are likely
to be made if ZANU PF is to proceed with its harmonization of elections
plan, the party will require every seat to be sure of getting the
two-thirds majority. Meanwhile the opposition will also aim to win
the seat to enhance their chances of frustrating such amendments.
It will also view such a win as the beginning of the end of ZANU
PF dominance in the rural areas and this might invigorate their
campaign for elections to be synchronized in 2008 or 2010.
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