ZANU-PF appears desperate to win the hearts and minds of residents here after the party was snubbed in the July 31 polls.
ZANU-PF lost all the 12 National Assembly and 29 council seats in Bulawayo to the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai.
While ZANU-PF was still able to win a majority in Parliament, the fact that they couldn’t penetrate Bulawayo after throwing everything into the campaign has been a pain in their backside.
Now, the party has gone back to the drawing board to see where it could have gone wrong.
The superstitious lot within the party believe the late vice president Joshua Nkomo’s spirit was unhappy with the many projects built in his honour, that are still to be completed.
The thinking is therefore that they need to correct this before the gods smile on them.
A revered figure in Bulawayo and beyond, Nkomo died in July 1999 after a long battle with prostate cancer.
Since his death, a number of projects have been constructed in his honour but these have taken long to complete.
Among them is the Ekusileni Medical Centre and the Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport — both in Bulawayo.
There is now renewed vigour in ZANU-PF to complete these projects ahead of the 2018 elections in order to placate Bulawayo residents.
The tell tale signs of the desperation could be seen from the haste with which the party now wants to complete the construction of a statue in honour of Nkomo, an iconic figure.
Government officials say they are chasing an October deadline to finalise the project, which started years ago.
In 2010, a statue that had been erected in honour of the late Father Zimbabwe, as Nkomo was affectionately known, was pulled down before its official unveiling.
This followed opposition from the Nkomo family and the Bulawayo community who felt that the statue was too small and not befitting for a national hero of his stature.
The statue was then taken to the Bulawayo Museum before being locked away at the National Museums and Monuments of Zimbabwe (NMMZ), where it is still being kept.
After the resolution of the conflict between the government and the Nkomo family in May 2011, the latter then gave the former green light to have statues of Nkomo erected in Bulawayo and Harare.
Work on the statue resumed in August 2011 and has been underway since then.
The government then went on to only raise the pedestal, on which the statue would be mounted at the intersection of Main Street and 8th Avenue in Bulawayo and later abandoned the project citing lack of funds.
Last week, Bulawayo residents woke up to men at work at the site of the statue, with Home Affairs Minister, Kembo Mohadi later revealing that government had allocated a substantial amount to the NMMZ to finalise the project.
The project will cost an estimated US$400 000.
ZANU-PF politburo member, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, said there was nothing political about government’s renewed efforts to have the statue erected soon.
He said the lack of progress on the many projects built in honour of Nkomo was a result of lack of money.
The government’s haste has, however, raised eyebrows, with political observers saying ZANU-PF was in a hurry to curry favour with the city’s residents.
Political analyst, Michael Mdladla-Ndiweni, said ZANU-PF could be responding to complaints to the effect that a number of projects in honour of Nkomo had become white elephants.
“It could be efforts to show Matabeleland that the party cares about the people of this region,” said Mdladla-Ndiweni.
“On the contrary, ZANU-PF would like to expedite the erection of the statue and later argue that it was a small project compared to the airport which they will argue that sanctions are a major cause that led to the delay of its completion.”
Mgcini Nyoni, another political analyst, concurred.
“The haste with which they are now erecting the Joshua Nkomo statue can be seen as a way of trying to reengage Bulawayo, and the statue has to be in place as all their other programmes are taking off,” said Nyoni.
“ZANU-PF are masters of strategy and planning ahead, and their recent resounding win in the recent elections has convinced them that they can even do better, come 2018 and they want to take Bulawayo and Harare.”
Anglistone Sibanda, a political analyst, said the party would not make inroads in Bulawayo as long as other projects in honour of Nkomo are not implemented.
“As long as the hospital built in honour of Nkomo (Ekusileni Medical Centre) is not operating, airport (Joshua Mqabuko Nkomo International Airport) remaining incomplete and the people of Bulawayo going for days without water, ZANU-PF’s rush to erect Nkomo’s statue is just a waste of time,” said Sibanda.
“A statue is a statue and will never bring water to our taps.”