Innocent Ruwende Senior Reporter
A record 360 candidates are vying for 46 Harare City Council seats, with the smallest ward in terms of area having nine candidates.
In 2013, only 170 candidates contested for the 46 wards.
Zanu-PF, MDC Alliance, Peoples Rainbow Coalition and Build Zimbabwe Alliance fielded candidates in almost every ward.
MDC Alliance fielded two candidates in each of two of the wards.
Last Thursday, Nomination Court presiding officer Mr Tendai Gavi announced in the council chamber that 360 candidates had successfully submitted their papers.
The process, which went late into the night, saw 23 candidates having their papers rejected after failing to get the required five nominations.
The United African National Congress (UANC) emerged as the party with the highest number of candidates who failed to get the required five nominations, when seven of its candidates failed.
Another independent candidate was disqualified for being under age.
Candidates are required to be 21 years of age and above.
Ward 23 topped the list with 13 candidates, while the smallest ward in Harare, Ward 46, had nine contestants.
Mr Barnabas Ndira (MDC Alliance) who was affected by the High Court ruling nullifying the party’s primary election for local authority Ward 21 seat in Mabvuku, managed to submit his papers after coming with a court order in his favour.
His rival and losing candidate Blessing Nhende, who had contested the results of the just-ended primary elections, which were won by Mr Ndira also submitted his papers.
In Ward 29, the MDC Alliance fielded two candidates whose papers were signed by the same party officials, showing discord within the party.
Mr Tendai Matafi and Mr Sydney Masiiwa all of MDC Alliance want to represent Ward 29.
MDC Alliance senior official Mr Ian Makone submitted his papers intending to stand for Ward 18, while activist pastor Evan Mawarire submitted his paper for Ward 17.
Many sitting Zanu-PF councillors were present at the nomination court and submitted their papers, but there were new faces for the MDC Alliance where only a few councillors managed to retain the right to contest in their previous wards.
Outgoing Harare mayor Councillor Bernard Manyenyeni ridiculed the high turnout on his Facebook page.
“For the 46 Harare City Council wards the Nomination Court was at Town House, which looked like we had advertised for casual job vacancies,” he said.
“Unconfirmed reports are that over 350 hopefuls think they are ready to run the billion dollar tragedy called Harare City Council.”
In an interview, Clr Manyenyeni added: “Being a councillor has become the easiest job in the city. Our concerns over quality and capacity are heightened. A lot of external specialist help will be critical. Harare is a billion dollar tragedy as it is.”