The main opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) has blamed its weekend by-elections defeat to violence and other coercive tactics employed by the ruling Zanu PF party.
The violence prior to the October 22 by-elections saw CCC supporters being beaten in Matobo and Insiza districts. Bulawayo Proportional Representation MP Jasmine Toffa (CCC) was severely injured while on a campaign trail and had to be hospitalised as a result of the violence.
CCC only won one ward out of the six wards which were up for grabs; namely Mutare, Matobo, Guruve, Takawira, Buhera and Insiza.
CCC deputy spokesperson Felix Magalela Sibanda told NewsDay that: “We are not surprised or saddened by the results of the six by-elections that happened over the weekend. Naturally we knew that Zanu PF had that strategy to come and disturb people a week before elections. These were not free and fair elections as they had elements of intimidation through violence. They use this tactic of intimidating people so that they are afraid to go and vote.”
Sibanda said they hoped that the CCC would win the 2023 general elections resoundingly.
“Our membership has increased by 45%. We still have hope that come 2023 we are going to win these elections. These are just wards,” he added.
Meanwhile, electoral watchdogs have urged government to facilitate dialogue among political parties which advocates for the shunning of violence in order to avoid disputes in future elections.
In a statement on the just-ended by-elections, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network urged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) and the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to ensure a peaceful and enabling environment that satisfies credible elections.
“Zec should censure political party leaders and traditional leaders who propagate hate speech, intimidate political rivals, or promise reprisals after polls; while law enforcement agents must bring such offenders to book,” read the Zesn statement.
Zimbabwe Election Advocacy Trust director Ignatious Sadziwa said: “Violence-infested elections cannot pass the credibility and legitimacy test, hence they are far from being free and fair. What is worrying is the silence of Zec, NPRC and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission. We also appeal to the Zanu PF leadership to refrain from hate language and observe the rule of law. If current settings persist, we are likely going to experience a gloomy general election in 2023.”