Confusion is reigning supreme in Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) after the party literally has three candidates who successfully filed for nomination for the by election in Masvingo West’s Ward 2.
The ward fell vacant following the recall of ward 2 councilor and Masvingo Mayor Shantiel Chiwara by Sengezo Tshabangu who claims to be interim CCC secretary general.
The trio are Chiwara, former Councillor Roki Kamuzonda and Frank Chirairo who filed as Independent though he was a CCC member who contested in the party primaries earlier.
The three are igniting their June 2023 battle where they clashed at primaries, with Kamuzonda and Chirairo, despite leading the Bereka Mwana stage, failed to succeed in other stages of the election.
After the party announced Chiwara as the official candidate, Chirairo went on to file for nomination and was reported to police for allegedly forging signatures but went on to withdraw his candidature after the party promised to withdraw charges which they went on to do.
On the other hand Kamuzonda filed as independent accusing Chiwara of sleeping her way up and said if the party had considered Chirairo he was not going to contest.
He however went on to withdraw after allegedly being offered US$500 as compensation and was accused of secretly working with Zanu PF candidate Benson Hwata in a bid to make sure Chiwara lost the seat.
Interestingly, Kamuzonda and Chirairo have swapped positions; Kamuzonda filed under CCC which locals have termed CCC Tshabangu while Chirairo is now the independent candidate.
Speaking after the nomination on Tuesday November 7, Chiwara said her papers were signed by her party led by Chamisa’s local signatories and said she was confident of a resounding victory.
“I have successfully filed my nomination papers as the candidate to represent CCC led by Chamisa on the December 9 by election following my recall by Tshabangu who claim to be SG though we do not have such structures in our party.
“I am grateful to the leaders for giving me another opportunity to represent the party and I am confident that ward 2 residents will support me as they did in the previous election,” said Chiwara.
Commenting on the recall, Chiwara said she was not disturbed that much as she was recalled by an impostor not her party which she said was still behind her.
“I am not disturbed by the recall though it came unexpectedly, knowing the recall did not come from our leadership I was not disturbed very much because they have assured me that we are on track and that whatever is happening is politics and should be expected.
“Now I am confident that whether in power or not, in office or not, the leadership of the movement that I work with is on track and we are in good books so I do not have a problem with that,” said Chiwara.
On the other hand, Kamuzonda said he was happy to be back in the game and was grateful to God for answering his prayers saying his papers were signed in Harare
“I have filed my papers signed from Harare so that I can be able to participate in the coming by election where I will be representing CCC. I am happy because God has remembered me ever since the time I was let down, my prayers have been answered.
“I want to promise ward 2 residents that I will address the challenges they were facing recently, the destroying of stall markets and harassment of widow and orphan vendors in the streets. I will try to negotiate with responsible authorities to find a better solution than chasing people and destroying properties,” said Kamuzonda.
On social media platforms, Chiwara seems to have an upper hand over others by the mere fact that she has Chamisa’s endorsement.
In the many Ward 2 WhatsApp groups, Chiwara enjoys support while a few sympathize with Kamuzonda, who showed interests of retaining the seat since the recall of Chiwara.
Soon after the recall, Kamuzonda has been giving updates to residents on council operations which he was likely getting from his previous contacts in council.
On the other hand, Chirairo who was silent on social media and could have been campaigning silently said his chances of winning were excellent saying he was still loyal to CCC and the work he was doing before the August 23 elections.
“My chances of winning are high, I have been campaigning before the August 23 elections and my promises to people are still the same. I still have the support I had last time though I failed to get a chance to represent the party,” said Chirairo.
He said his decision to stand as independent was because of the push he got from people in the ward.
Sources say Chirairo could benefit if Tshabangu decides to stop Chiwara from contesting on the technicality that she is not a party member.
Faced with that situation, CCC may support Chirairo as a better candidate as supporting Kamuzonda will be seen like endorsing Tshabangu though Kamuzonda claims that he has Chamisa’s blessing.
Zanu PF will be represented by Benson Hwata who lost to Chiwara in the August 2023 elections and he could probably be smiling that the CCC impasse could work in his favor.