Home » Governance » 10 Facts and Figures From June 10 [column]

On Wednesday, Zimbabwe went to vote in 16 by-elections across the country. The by-elections were largely precipitated by the expulsion from Parliament of members who were elected on the MDC-T ticket but splintered off with Tendai Biti to form MDC Renewal.

The other two seats were left vacant following the expulsion of Messrs Didymus Mutasa and Temba Mliswa from Zanu-PF. The ruling party swept all 16 seats that were up for grabs in a contest that was marked by the controversial boycott of the main opposition MDC-T on the ostensible grounds of demanding electoral reforms.

Analysts, though, saw this as an excuse to avoid an embarrassing reversal to heap on the crushing defeat of July 2013 elections in which Zanu-PF bettered MDC-T by 160-49. There are 10 important facts and figures of the just-ended by-elections and we crunch them for you:

1. Democracy at play

The by-elections demonstrated that electoral democracy is alive and well in Zimbabwe with Zimbabweans participating, or, in the case of a section of the opposition, choosing not to participate, in national democratic events. More than 400 000 people registered to vote and

104 candidates from 11 political parties participated in the by-election.

There were 510 presiding officers and 2 550 polling and 16 command centres. More than 330 observers were accredited by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission while 13 local observer groups among them Zimrights, Zimbabwe Election Support Network, The Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace in Zimbabwe, Election Resource Centre, Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and 43 foreign diplomats were also accredited to observe the elections.

2. Zanu-PF’s 100 percent

Sixteen by-elections at one go (7.6 percent of the total 210) is a historical statistic in Zimbabwe as there has not been a deluge of such proportion. Given the national distribution of the contested seats, this was like a mini national election. And Zanu-PF got 100 percent, which must not be so much of flattery to the ruling party but reward for the hard work and seriousness the party invested into these elections. The seats that Zanu-PF has added to its haul are: Dzivarasekwa, Kuwadzana West, Kambuzuma, Harare East, Highfield West, Glen View South, Hurungwe West, Headlands, Dangamvura-Chikanga, Pumula, Lobengula, Luveve, Pelandaba-Mpopoma, Makokoba, Tsholotsho North, and Mbizo .

This means that with 16 more additions Zanu-PF has a resounding majority in Parliament dwarfing MDC-T by 176-49, which translates to an 83.8 percent majority for the ruling party.

3. An “ill boycott”

The conduct of the by-election, the turnout — even when it was not too high (Wednesday was not declared a public holiday) — and the resultant stranglehold of Zanu-PF in Parliament, all but exposed the boycott by the MDC-T as an ill wind that did not do the opposition any good. Mr Tsvangirai’s former aisor Dr Alex Magaisa has pointed this out on several occasions. What the new situation means is that Zanu-PF has just increased its hold on the national body politic and MDC-T has little democratic space to manoeuvre.

4. Temba Mliswa, fall of the great opposition hope

Mr Mliswa was expelled from the ruling party for being part of the cabal of former Vice President Joice Mujuru. He went on and declared himself an independent candidate and he had all the blessings of the opposition, which pledged to support him as well as members of the People First project of Zanu-PF rejects. Mliswa managed to garner 4 239 against Cde Keith Guzah of Zanu-PF who won by 5 961.

While Mr Mliswa’s showing may seem flattering, the fact of the matter is that his last showing was 8 485 and that has been halved. And because he had the support of the MDC-T (and Americans) in a constituency that previously had been held by the opposition, it shows that Cde Guzah did well. Besides, Cde Guzah came to this constituency only this time around and did not have the benefit of background work. In conclusion, since Mr Mliswa’s victory would have delighted, nay, emboldened the opposition, and especially Zanu-PF rejects in People First, his failure confirms that Zanu-PF is just too g for any opponent at the moment.

5. Didymus is dead

This election could as well mark the death of the political animal called Didymus Mutasa. He was Zanu-PF’s Secretary for Administration and a senior Government official but his fall along with other members of the Mujuru cabal hurt his political fortunes. He tried to contest these elections but was barred after he filed his nomination papers as a Zanu-PF member when he actually had been expelled. The win by Christopher Chingosho in Headlands all but seals his political fate. Unless something miraculous happens with the increasingly stillbirth-looking People First project.

6. The biggest winner is . . .

There is no doubt that Zanu-PF is the winner of this contest. It was a walk-over. The margins were flattering, even where turnout was low. Yet there was one biggest winner — Professor Jonathan Moyo in Tsholotsho North constituency who polled 11695 votes against Getrude Sibanda (Independent) who got 38 votes and Busani Ncube who polled 91 votes.

It is little wonder that when these by-elections were triggered, he called it a “Hand of God”. But he also worked for it, even through the night, an attribute that earned him some nocturnal sobriquet many years ago.

7. Still lots of work to do

One thing that stands out is the fact that the ruling party still has a lot of work to do, especially in the urban areas which are considered gholds of the opposition.

The not-so-flattering statistics include Cde Psychology Maziwisa, for example, winning by 2 254 in Harare’s Highfield West, a constituency with 16 000 registered voters. In Bulawayo’s Makokoba constituency which has 28 3228 registered voters, Zanu-PF’s Cde Tshinga Dube polled only 3182 votes to win.

The pattern is true of many other urban constituencies. There is little doubt that the opposition may have bagged a couple of seats had it decided to contest. This means that the ruling party has a lot of work to do come 2018.

8. Changing dynamics

One thing that is coming out is that political dynamics in the country are changing, and changing fast. The demographics, attitudes and expectations of the electorate are mutating and whereas the opposition is losing ground fast, the ruling party has managed to keep its ground steady, making important gains, even. The opposition is backsliding and all its messages and slogans are sounding so stale, so 2000! Without the revolutionary Zanu-PF shooting itself in the foot, it is sure to make inroads in the opposition gholds and romp to victory in 2018. And beyond.

9. The pundits were right

Early last month, two think-tanks Afrobarometer and Mass Public Opinion Institute released results of a survey that indicated that President Mugabe was the most popular politician in the country. The survey showed that President Mugabe was trusted by 70 percent of people in rural areas and 45 percent in urban areas. President Mugabe is the face of Zanu-PF and the results of these by-elections confirm his popularity as the face of the revolutionary party. The opposition is used to castigating such findings that do not favour them but the truth is, the figures don’t lie.

And the pundits were right.

10. Now, onto the economy!

It is scant doubt that the results of these by-elections will give the ruling party a lot of endorphins-boost as it knows that the people of Zimbabwe have confidence in it. However, it will interest the ruling party as well to know that many people are now looking beyond these elections and electioneering in the hope that the ruling party gives at least 83.8 percent more attention to the economy which is not performing at its best presently.

Source : The Herald