Felex Share Senior Reporter—
Zanu-PF Secretary for Administration Cde Ignatius Chombo has urged the ruling party members to unite and bury their differences like they did in the Bikita West by-election held on Saturday if they entertain testing more sweet victories in the future. Going into the Bikita West by-election, Zanu-PF had lost the Norton by-election at the end of last year to independent candidate Mr Temba Mliswa, amid accusations of factional fights and the imposition of the candidate by the Commissariat Department to spite perceived party rivals.
Cde Chombo spoke as political analysts said the victory by Zanu-PF in the constituency with a margin of nearly 11 000 votes signalled the end of Dr Joice Mujuru’s ZimPF party, barely a year after its formation.
The analysts said the victory was a baptism of fire for Dr Mujuru and pointed to the crushing defeat opposition parties will encounter in the harmonised elections next year.
The Bikita West by-election saw Zanu-PF’s Cde Beauty Chabaya romping to victory with 13 156 votes against Kudakwashe Gopo of ZimPF, who managed only 2 453 votes.
The election was widely viewed as a litmus test for Dr Mujuru, whose party was taking part in polls for the first time since its formation last year. Dr Mujuru was fired from Zanu-PF in 2014 for plotting to topple President Mugabe.
But Cde Chombo said to achieve another crushing victory in 2018, party cadres should expend their energies on unity and service delivery. He said opposition parties would have no chance against the Zanu-PF juggernaut come 2018.
“We are happy we won by such a wide margin,” he said. “This is clear statement to all other political parties that come 2018, they are going to be thrashed like prodigal children in this political contest.
“We comment the commissariat, Masvingo leadership and voters for coming out with that colossal victory and believing in our party. We should not relax for us to post wider margins than this next year.”
Cde Chombo said there should be no room for petty fights in the revolutionary party.
“The main reason why political parties exist is to win elections,” he said. “We should focus on how to win elections and not to expend our energies on personal differences. We want to focus on what really unites us. This has been proven in Bikita that when people are going in one direction, it is easier to win.”
The by-election in Bikita West was incident-free, with contestants hailing the peaceful environment that characterised the polls. Masvingo provincial chairperson Cde Ammasi Nhenjana told The Herald that the victory came as no surprise.
“We knew all along that we were going to win and we are not surprised at all by the margin of the victory,” he said. “We did a lot of work on the ground along with the national leadership who all came to Bikita West to campaign for our candidate.
“This victory shows that the party is set for next year’s national elections, which we are confident of winning. Those who are surprised by the victory do not know how we operate as Zanu-PF, we are a party of the people.”
Political analyst Mr Tendai Toto said opposition parties, even if they formed a coalition, would not topple Zanu-PF in 2018. He said the Bikita West by-election showed that the revolutionary party had grassroots support.
“An election process is a game of numbers,” he said. “It is time political parties don’t just think on capitalising on economic woes and other plagues bedevilling the country to lure votes; their real and tangible alternatives must be saleable to citizens, not the usual mantra of “Mugabe must go!”
On Zanu-PF unity, Mr Toto said: “Politics is a united front and unison. Numbers come in easy when you are united for one cause and affiliation. Divisive tendencies and traits bear the results of the Norton by-election.”
Zanu-PF lost the Norton by-election last year to independent candidate and expelled former party official Mr Temba Mliswa, amid accusations that the commissariat department imposed a candidate who was also weak.
Another political analyst Mr Maxwell Saungweme said of the Bikita West victory: “It is an indicator that Zanu-PF will win elections unless opposition coalesce to field common candidates.
“Without a change of strategy, the opposition must know that Zanu-PF will cruise to victory.” Mr Goodwine Mureriwa said it would be difficult to defeat Zanu-PF in the rural areas because of the party’s empowerment programmes.
“People in the rural areas have a long relationship with Zanu-PF and do not vote with their bellies,” he said. “In any case, the numbers for people voting for Zanu-PF will grow exponentially in 2018 because the party is in touch with the masses. People might have economic hardships, but Zanu-PF remains their mother.”
He went on: “It is also clear that the so-called factions in Zanu-PF are just side shows and will never stop the party from registering resounding victories.”