THE battle for the Cowdray Park ward 28 council seat has reached fever pitch with parties contesting in the by-election leaving nothing to chance.
The by-election has been set for this coming Saturday and the official campaign period ends today (Wednesday).
While other parties like MDC, Zapu and ZEFF and MRP have shown their strong intentions to claim the seat which fell vacant following the death of an MDC councillor Happy Ncube in December last year, Zanu PF on Friday surprisingly deployed top party officials led by Vice President Kembo Mohadi to drum up support for the party’s candidate.
On the other hand, Zapu president Dumiso Dabengwa who has just returned from two-month sick leave, on Sunday led his troops to Cowdray Park where he also conducted a road show and later a rally, as the battle intensifies.
The country’s main opposition party, the MDC, is fielding two candidates — Collet Ndlovu and Nomagugu Sibanda in the by-election. While the party claims to have expelled Sibanda, investigations by Southern News showed that, she was actively involved in the campaign with full support from some party seniors.
Zanu PF has since the year 2000 struggled to win seats in the second capital, but the ruling party never seems to read much into history confidently deploying a high powered delegation — a first in decades, to convince the people of Cowdray Park suburb to change their minds.
Secretary for Administration Obert Mpofu, deputy national commissar Omega Hungwe, former ministers Mike Bimha and David Parirenyatwa the secretary for Indigenisation and health respectively, politburo members Tshinga Dube, Absolom Sikhosana and Angeline Masuku among others made the team that descended on the suburb ahead of the election.
In a bid to win their hearts, Mohadi donated 60 tonnes of maize and 30 tonnes of rice to residents, in what has been widely viewed as a clear vote buying gimmick.
Perhaps the ruling party has been buoyed by the current restructuring exercise in the city, which the party insisted was the best way to revive its fortunes
Zanu PF chose well-known local businessman Kidwell Mujuru to represent it in the election where 18 candidates are vying for the seat.
The Cowdray Park ward has one of the largest voting populations of 23 3041. Accordingly, Zec established 36 polling stations for the purposes of the by-election.
The ward has for the past two weeks been a hive of activity with campaign flyers, t-shirts and posters of different political parties a common sight. Road shows and door-to-door campaigns have also been something that one cannot ignore.
But Zanu PF seemed to have realised the importance of the election, hosting a huge rally on Friday in the suburb.
“Since 2000, we have been losing been losing both general and local authority elections to the opposition.
“It boggles my mind to see Zanu PF losing elections to the MDC. This must come to a stop. Let us make sure that the situation changes, starting with Cowdray Park.
“Let’s also give this young man a chance by voting for him. We will show you what government is capable of doing for its people,” Mohadi told the rally.
If Zanu PF manages to win the seat, it will be a wake-up call for the main opposition MDC who for the past two decades have relied heavily on urban areas as their strongholds.
Zanu PF has one MP in Bulawayo Raji Modi, who won the Bulawayo South seat in the July 30 harmonised election after the party capitalised on the confusion by MDC which also fielded two candidates.