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  • Zimbabwe's Elections 2013 - Index of Articles

  • Zim elections: Welshman Ncube is sitting pretty
    Takudzwa Munyaka; Farai Shoko, Mail and Guardian (SA)
    July 12, 2013

    The July 31 poll will be a tight contest between President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in what many consider to be a two-horse race.

    But political analysts are predicting that MDC leader Welshman Ncube will emerge as a kingmaker.

    Analysts say while Mugabe and Tsvangirai may be forced into a runoff, whoever has Ncube's backing at that run-off will emerge the winner.

    A close result is also being predicted between Zanu-PF and the MDC-T in the parliamentary and, local government elections, and again, Ncube's seats may prove to be the deciding factor for a majority in the House of Assembly.

    Although several opinion polls have indicated that Zanu-PF may win the polls, analysts believe it is an open race as all parties have weaknesses.

    Ncube's MDC party has been busy on the campaign trail for longer than the other parties, especially in its strongholds in Matabeleland. It has also formed an alliance with Zapu, a party with roots in Matabeleland, consolidating votes in that region.

    MDC campaign The MDC has hinged its campaign on devolution of power, which seems to resonate well in Matabeleland where government stands accused of promoting under­development of that region through neglect.

    "The party's major weakness, however, whether real or perceived, is that it is viewed as a regional or tribal party. It lacks a national appeal and they have to address that," said political analyst Dumisani Nkomo.

    "The quality of some of its candidates is also worrying and the party may have lost ground under the leadership of [Arthur] Mutambara, when a number of senior people defected to MDC-T. The departure of people like [Abednico] Bhebhe and other senior party officials would have weakened the party."

    Dr Charity Manyeruke, a politics lecturer at the University of Zimbabwe, believes Mugabe's "people-centred" policies, such as the land reform and the indigenisation programmes coupled with his history as a liberator, give him an advantage compared with his rivals.

    But Nkomo believes Zanu-PF has been in power for too long, which may work against it scoring the majority - leaving it in need of a coalition.

    "The party also has serious problems, including having been in power for 33 years, in which they have largely failed. The electorate will be wondering if the party has anything new to offer," said Nkomo.

    MDC-T needs Ncube Yet analysts believe the protest vote could once again drive support for the MDC-T, but this time diluted by Tsvangirai's performance during the tenure of the unity government.

    "A significant number of people are just tired of Mugabe and Zanu-PF and want change," said Nkomo.

    But the MDC-T also needs Ncube.

    "The sex scandals had an effect on Morgan Tsvangirai's brand. His indecision and lack of strategic thinking have also cost him. For example, he made a blunder by conniving with Mugabe to back Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara instead of backing Ncube," said Nkomo.

    Indications are that Tsvangirai and Ncube may fail to unite before the polls. Political analyst Dr Ibbo Mandaza believes Ncube has the capacity to win enough votes to ensure the presidential election goes to a run-off.

    "He [Ncube] has the capacity to win between 10 and 20 seats, which will make him hold the balance of power in Parliament. We are likely going to have a hung Parliament with almost equal numbers between Zanu-PF and MDC-T," he said.

    University of Zimbabwe lecturer Professor Eldred Masunungure also believes the next parliament will be hung and that Ncube's entry into the presidential race would force a runoff between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.

    Calls for a coalition Pressure is mounting in diplomatic circles for Welshman Ncube and Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai to forge a coalition.

    But Ncube's camp this week vehemently denied any electorate pact with Tsvangirai, insisting it was a creation of the media.

    Western diplomats in Harare this week told the Mail & Guardian that there is a general consensus within the diplomatic community that they should merge.

    "The only logical thing to do at this moment is for Ncube to play ball with Tsvangirai," said a Western diplomat, who asked not to be named. "It is now or never. We are tired of the Zimbabwe crisis," he said.

    Tsvangirai this week forged an electoral pact with former Zanu-PF politburo member Simba Makoni of Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn and Seketai Sengwayo of Zanu Ndonga.

    The MDC-T leader on Tuesday got an endorsement from businessman Mutumwa Mawere.


    Last week, Ncube also signed a pact with former Zanu-PF politburo member Dumiso Dabengwa of Zapu.

    Makoni, who spoke on behalf of the Tsvangirai coalition, told journalists on Monday that there had been talks about roping Ncube into the grand coalition.

    But in a hard-hitting response, Ncube's secretary general, Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga, denied that her party was in talks with Tsvangirai.

    "We want to place it on record that MDC has never been involved in any five-party talks.

    "We therefore dismiss with the contempt it deserves the deliberate falsification … by Simba Makoni," she said, adding that the lies are some of the reasons why Ncube does not want to be associated with "political leaders who have mastered the art of politics of deception".

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