Mwenezi East candidates in war of words

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HARARE – The battle for the Mwenezi East seat is escalating, with Zanu PF and Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) candidates embroiled in a war of words ahead of the by-election.

ZPF’s Kudakwashe Bhasikiti is accusing his former party, Zanu PF, of deploying the full might of its terror machinery and engaging in blatant vote buying.

This comes after the Nomination Court, which sat at the Masvingo Magistrates’ Court on February 17, accepted four candidates for the April 8 by-election, namely Joosby Omar of the ruling Zanu PF, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA)’s Welcome Masuku, Turner Mhango of the Free Zimbabwe Congress and Bhasikiti — whose gazetted name is Bhasikiti-Chuma.

Once MP for the area, Bhasikiti — a former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister — lost the seat after he was booted out of Zanu PF in 2014.

The National Assembly constituency seat fell vacant following the death of the incumbent Zanu PF MP Joshua Moyo on December 22 last year.

“We are currently on the ground, Zanu PF is distributing food and vote buying is in full swing,” Bhasikiti claimed.

“We are also worried; our supporters are living in fear. Violent cases have been recorded in ward 13 and ward 2,” he further alleged.

Recent amendments to the Electoral Act allow the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) to warn election candidates, election agents or parties implicated in acts of political violence and to set up special courts to try such cases.

“We are doing silent campaigns, we are fighting a monster and I am ready to teach Zanu PF a lesson,” Bhasikiti said.

He called for the disqualification of Zanu PF because of vote buying.

The use of gifts to procure votes is illegal according to Section 136 of the Electoral Act (Chapter 2:13).

Bhasikiti said it was critical that Zec deals with vote buying as it amounts to undue influence.

“It is unlawful,” he said.

“We are not doing public rallies we fear to expose our supporters because they will be intimidated. We are doing door to door campaigns.

“Even Zanu PF supporters have now realised that they were cheated to vote for a foreigner…(Omar), people did not want him here,” Bhasikiti said, adding that “he (Omar) did not stay here and he has done nothing for the constituency,” he said.

In response, Omar said: “I never came across the issue of violence. I think Bhasikiti needs some counselling. He comes from Mwenezi but people don’t like him.

“The people of Mwenezi need to be represented by someone who cares for their lives. He was once the MP and the provincial minister but he did nothing for the constituency.

“He can’t even run his farm. As you know, he has got an outstanding electricity bill and how do you expect him to run a constituency.”

Bhasikiti has been dragged to the High Court for allegedly failing to settle a $133 000 Zesa bill.

“I will not waste my time de-campaigning him because Bhasikiti has nothing to offer to the people of Mwenezi,” Omar said.

“The preparations for the election are going on well, we are having a lot of people at our rallies,” he claimed.

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