…Mazarire, Zvobgo take battle to rural turf
…Mavhenyengwa faction clashes in Zaka
…New faces emerge in Masvingo North, Gutu East
…Chadzamira likely to bounce back in Masvingo West
…Two Mutodis clash in Bikita South
MASVINGO – It will be a dog eat dog scenario in Zanu PF primary elections initially set for Saturday (March 18) but have been postponed to a later date, with big wigs and some completely new faces set to clash in the internal process which has previously been marred with violence, intimidation and serious rigging.
The party announced that there was an overwhelming number of candidates who submitted their papers to contest for various positions in the primaries, elongating the vetting process as there were reportedly higher chances of infiltration among other anomalies.
Party National Political Commissar Dr Mike Bimha announced in a presser a day before the scheduled primaries (Friday March 17) that primary elections had been postponed to a later, unannounced date after Politburo meets on Monday, March 20, 2023.
In Masvingo, Zanu PF Provincial Secretary for Communications Pepukai Chiwewe earlier this week confirmed that there was an overwhelming response to the call for submissions of aspiring candidates’ CVs ahead of the primary elections.
Chiwewe said large numbers were recorded, with a minimum of four and maximum of 12 per ward for local authorities, as well as a minimum of four and a maximum of seven for parliamentary candidates in Masvingo Province.
The election in the province however is expected to be nothing short of drama and surprises as 2018 Zanu PF Masvingo Urban constituency main contenders Benjamin Taguma Mazarire and Eddison Zvobgo Jnr have taken their rivalry to Masvingo Central constituency to try their luck with the rural electorate once more after the urban seat proved too difficult to clinch.
The two contested in 2018 primaries and Mazarire won, only to lose to then MDC-Alliance’s little known Jacob Nyokanhete ending Zanu PF’s total control of the province’s 26 constituencies.
In 2013, Zanu PF won all the 26 constituencies including the urban seat which was taken by Daniel Shumba from MDC’s Tongai Matutu.
The main battle will be between two businessmen and youthful Phainos Makwarimba who is likely to win the contest.
Mazarire, a businessman who is into mining and money lending business, contested Masvingo West in 2013 and lost to Ezra Chadzamira, contested again in 2018 and lost in the main election—history has a tendency of repeating itself.
Mazarire claims to be of Mapanzure clan, which means Mapanzure area could be his stronghold and basing on traditional leaders influence in polls, that gives him an edge to that effect.
Zvobgo, the Managing Director of Regency Hotels is riding on his father’s fame having been the area’s MP for a long time though he left nothing to show off his prolonged stay in power.
Zvobgo has influence from Mashate Business Centre up to his home area Shonganiso Misssion where his family has two schools and a clinic tyo their name.
He once tried his luck in the same constituency in 2013 and lost to sitting MP Edmund Mhere who has since stepped down and is alleged to be supporting Makwarimba.
Makwarimba is also using his late father Clemence Makwarimba’s popularity having been the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) for Masvingo Rural District Council and Senator for Masvingo district.
Makwarimba could be fishing in the same pond with Mazarire in Mapanzure. However, he seem to have more grip in the area which is his home turf, having ran some sporting tournaments for the youth in the current campaign period.
He also enjoys support in Mushawasha area where incumbent Edmund Mhere hails from and is always on the ground unlike Zvobgo and Mazarire.
Brian Charumbira, a councillor, also threw his hat in the ring as he may have support in his ward but is barely known in other areas thereby limiting his chances.
Three other names in the race are Jephison Chikovo, a Mutati and one Nhindire.
Four people have since lined up for Masvingo South Constituency where the incumbent Claudious Maronge is tipped to retain his post since his competitors seem not to have the grasp in the constituency.
Other contestants include Victor Vengei who lost to Maronge in 2018, Mukomberi, Maushe Mutetepi and Chidhaura.
Battle lines have been drawn in Masvingo North between youthful Brian Mudhumi, who seems to have the incumbent who has since moved to contest in Zaka Central Davies Marapira’s blessing, businessman Pascal Mudzikisi, popular bus operator Tanda Tavaruva (Mhunga)’son Emmanuel Tavaruva, and Albert Mangena who is Masvingo RDC council chairperson.
Mudhumi’s chances are high; he has the resources and charisma. However, he is reported to be originally from Gutu and his alignment with the Mavhenyengwa faction in Chadzamira dominated Masvingo district could be his major undoing.
Mangena stands a better chance because of his links with Chadzamira faction and support from the Provincial Vice Chairperson Trust Mugabe who is pushing him out of council so that he becomes council chairperson at Masvingo RDC where he is councillor.
So Mudhumi and Mangena’s chances are almost 50/50 making it difficult to predict a winner amongst the two.
One female candidate Emily Madzana is also vying for the post and though she is not so popular, being a woman could be her only advantage if women would vote for a fellow woman, she could stand a better chance.
Three other unpopular names are alleged to have submitted their CVs for the constituency.
In Masvingo Urban, the battle is between two youthful candidates Wellington Mahwende who is the city’s deputy Mayor and Harare based businessperson James Pande.
Mahwende who is nicknamed ‘Putin’ in Zanu PF because of his aggression is most likely to win the seat having managed to win deputy mayor position where the opposition has majority. He has proven to be a shrewd politician who can stop at nothing to get power.
Pande on the other hand is equally energetic, being youthful like Mahwende, he is also well resourced to match Mahwende. His major undoing however is that he is based in Harare and has no popular business if he has one in Masvingo.
In Masvingo West, the incumbent and Minister of State for Provincial Affairs and Devolution Ezra Chadzamira enjoys the advantage of incumbency. He is well resourced and powerful having been provincial chair for some time and being the minister of State, he has an advantage over his rivals.
Chadzamira enjoys support from wards 33, 5, 2, 6 and 7 and may lose support in only two wards that are under Charumbira area since they accuse him of siding with Bere people.
Chadzamira will battle it out with little known Canada based Regis Vusango and Toddy Nyengerai who is ward 12 councillor.
Members of the Mavhenyengwa faction will clash in Zaka North after the delimitation process left them in the same constituency.
The two, former Zaka Central MP Paradzai Chakona and the sitting MP for dissolved Zaka West Ophias Murambiwa popularly known as ‘Maga Maga’ will square off in Zaka North.
Chakona has an advantage that he has been working in the constituency for some time having been tipped by the incumbent and party Provincial Chair Robson Mavhenyengwa who decided to step down after losing popularity.
Chakona is a shrewd politician but has since recorded some scandals in the constituency which can work against him.
On the other hand, Murambiwa, a central committee member like Chakona has what it takes to win the constituency but his major disadvantage is that he is only popular in a few wards that were taken from the now collapsed Zaka West to Zaka North.
Other candidates include perennial loser Professor Boniface Chivore who has been losing primaries even before the 2008 elections.
John Chikomo who was Mavhenyengwa’s right hand man is also in the race as well as little known Morris Chipato.
In Zaka Central, it will be the case of biblical David and Goliath with the main battle being between Davies Marapira (Goliath), and the David being any one between incumbent Davison Svuure and Manfred Mada.
Marapira however has an upper hand as he is well resourced and has been on the ground drilling boreholes, donating building material and stationery in schools as well as facilitating grading of roads.
Manfred Mada, ward 13 councillor allegedly refused an offer that had been put on the table to retain his council post and become council chairperson. He has also been on the ground and he has support mainly in Jerera.
Svuure is allegedly notorious for creating more enemies than friends during his tenure.
Other candidates include little known UK Based Patricia Chimombe who recently jetted into the country for the primary election and Kissmore Basopo and former Zaka West MP Vincent Mawere.
In Zaka South, the main battle is between Clemence Chiduwa who is MP for the dissolved Zaka East. Chiduwa is Zaka DCC chairperson and Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Development and James Makaure. Chiduwa’s major advantages are that he is well resourced and has done a number of tangible developmental projects since he assumed office in 2019. He also went to Zaka South with the bulk of wards from Zaka East where he enjoys support. He also has support from ward 24 which has been in Zaka West.
Makaure commands a following in some wards which were in Zaka West though he is a bit new in the dynamics of Zaka politics but enjoys support from Mavhenyengwa and Marapira faction.
Another contender is Talent Chivange who lost to Chiduwa in 2019 by-election after they had both been disqualified in 2018.
Chivange however is known to disappear after every election only to resurface towards another election.
He may however enjoy support from areas that are under Chief Nhema where Chiduwa is not popular.
In Chivi North, a tight contest is between incumbent Mathias Tongofa and Chivi RDC chairperson Godfrey Mukungunugwa with another contestant Clifford Mumbengegwi having slim chances.
While incumbency may be an advantage to Tongofa, it also may work as a disadvantage with people yearning new blood.
Mukungunugwa has the resources and as council chairperson, he had some influence in how devolution funds were used with bias towards Chivi North. He facilitated a number of projects in the constituency. He enjoys support from Chadzamira while his main rival Tongofa is from Mavhenyengwa faction.
In Chivi South, the sitting MP Munyaradzi Zizhou will battle it out with Felix Maburuse who is alleged to be well resourced though his chances seem to be slim than Zizhou’s. Since he assumed office only last year, Zizhou has not made many enemies and people could still want to give him another chance though on the developmental front, he does not have much to show.
In Chivi Central, the incumbent Ephraim Gwanongodza stepped down and four businessmen have since lined up for the contest. The four include Dr Tapiwa Murambi, Exavier Moses Maoneke popularly known as ‘Wezhas’, Kudzai Mujikwa and Ranganai Pedzisai.
The main contest is between Dr Murambi and Wezhas and it is difficult to predict the winner between the two.
All the sitting MPs in Bikita are eyeing a comeback. In Bikita West, the sitting MP Elias Musakwa of the ‘Hwava’ fame in gospel music circles will battle it out with Daniel Makusha, Solomon Mupangi and Mbirikunashe Chirovera.
In Bikita East Johnson Madhuku is being challenged by Court Gomba and Professor Jacob Mufunda. Madhuku, a shrewd politician, is likely to retain the seat.
In Bikita South, the incumbent Josiah Sithole will rekindle the provincial elections battle it out with two Mutodis—former Information and Publicity Deputy Minister Energy Mutodi and Givemore Mutodi. Henry Mumera si also believed to be posing a great challenge to Sithole and his chances are almost equalt to Energy Mutodi. Other candidates linked to the seat are one Mateveke and an Engineer Muvhuni.
Energy Mutodi who transferred from Goromonzi South is former President Mnangagwa’s ally and is well resourced to challenge Sithole.
In Gutu, a few ministers’ names have come up in different constituencies, with Minister of Mines and Mining Development Winston Chitando eyeing a comeback in Gutu Central.
In Gutu West, the incumbent and Zanu PF youth boss John Paradza is likely to retain his constituency.
In Gutu South, the sitting MP Pupurai Togarepi will likely clash with former Public Service Commission (PSC) Secretary Ambassador Jonathan Wutaunashe. Togarepi who is Zanu PF Chief Whip is likely to win the contest as he recently fought against the collapsing of the constituency through his position as chairperson of the Adhoc Committee on the analysis of the preliminary delimitation report. He is also well resourced and politically well-connected unlike Wutaunashe who seems not to be well versed with politics as he once contested and lost in 2018.
Another candidate is a local businessman Reggie Mabhiza.
With the incumbent Beritha Chikwama having stepped down in Gutu East, businessman Christopher Kudzayi Mashuro will likely contest against Higher and Tertiary Education, Science, Technology and Innovation Professor Amon Murwira and a Ganyiwa.
On the ground, Mashuro seems to be more popular, with businesses in the Munyikwa area, specifically Muchekayaora. He also has a good academic record, but if Murwira contests, he may shatter Mashuro’s interests since Murwira is President Mnangagwa’s ally.
It remains to be seen however who survives after the party trims the numbers of candidates, which they have said is likely to be done by Sunday, March 19, a day before the Politburo sits, but with the aggressive campaigns that have been going on, heads are set to roll as some bigwigs bite the dust.