By-elections marked by below-par voter turn-out

Brenna Matendere

Harare—All the wards recorded below-par voter turnout during the council by-elections that were conducted last Saturday in different parts of the country, a report by the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) shows.

The by-elections also included one parliamentary constituency, Gutu West in Masvingo, where polling was deferred from the 23-24 August 2023 harmonised elections because one of the candidates, Mutonhori Christopher Rwodzi, passed on ahead of the polls.

The council by-elections were also forced by the passing on of nominated or winning candidates in the respective wards that include wards 24 (Hurungwe), 11 and 13 (Nkayi), 14 (Vungu), 23 (Zvimba) and 13 (Kusile).

The ruling Zanu PF won in all the wards and the lone constituency, except Kusile during the by-elections.

The Gutu West parliamentary by-election was won by Zanu PF’s John Paradza who enjoyed a 60.2 percent turn-out or 15 460 of the 25 674 registered voters.

However, the ZESN report shared on Monday indicates that there was below 50 percent voter turn-out in all the ward by-elections.

In Kusile’s five wards, average voter turnout was at 32 percent, according to ZESN, with 87 at Gundwane Primary School, 37 at Jotsholo Clinic, 98 at Jotsholo Primary School, 130 at Manganganga Primary School and 94 at St George Primary School making up the majority having voted by noon on Saturday.

At Chiroti Primary School in Hurungwe’s Ward 24, only 29 percent or 250 out of 861 voted while the polling centres in the area had between 25 percent and 30 coming out to vote.

In Nkayi’s Ward 11, 578 out of 1 452 voted, translating to 40 percent.

The nomination court sat on 10 October to process the respective party choices in the affected areas.

In Gutu West, Paradza contested against Ephraem Murudu (Citizens Coalition for Change—CCC), Robson Kurwa (National Constitutional Assembly) and Martin Sebastine Mudzingwa (an independent).

Ezekiel Kasirowe (CCC) and Jerry Makumbe (Zanu PF) battled it out in Hurungwe’s Ward 14 while, in Ward 13, Kusile, Michael Gama (Zapu), Busani Kembo Moyo  (UZA), Mthelisi Ncube (Zanu PF) and Tarcissius Qonda (CCC) contested.

In Nkayi’s Ward 11, the candidates were Mubonisii Khumalo (CCC), Mzila Mpofu (Zapu), Mandla Ncube (Zanu PF)ANU-PF) and Philip Ndlovu (MDC-T).

In Vungu Ward 14, the nomination court approved the candidature of Annah Chipo Mathambiko  (CCC) and Aaron Muchemwa Aaron (Zanu PF), while in Zvimba Manuel Chinanzvavana (CCC), Pamellah Gomani (an independent), Ceccillia Muganhiri (Zanu PF) and Enock Junior Rabu (NCA) were duly nominated as candidates for the by-elections.

The election watchdog noted in its report that some people were assisted to vote in the presence of police as required by Section 59 of the Electoral Act due to illiteracy and physical handicaps.

In some cases, there was a high concentration of assisted voters, such as at Chiguhune Primary School in Gutu West where a quarter received assistance.

The political situation was “relatively peaceful and calm for most of the areas” ahead of and during the elections, notes the ZESN report.

“The environment allowed for electoral contestants across the political divide to canvass for votes. The lone exception was the report of intimidation that was reported in Jotsholo Village 13 of Kusile Ward 13, where it was reported that Zanu PF allegedly threatened to confiscate seed and fertilizer donations from villagers suspected of supporting the CCC party,” observed ZESN.

In Gutu West, the watchdog reported that two CCC supporters tried to disrupt Zanu PF and independent agents’ activities at Chitepo Primary School but the presiding officer intervened and resolved the dispute.

In Hurungwe, says ZESN, there was a report of a dozen Zanu PF supporters who gathered within 300 metres of a polling station, against a provision of the Electoral Act, but they were forced to relocate to another venue by the presiding officer.

The number of people turned away was “very low”.

Below are the results of the by-elections.

Gutu West National Assembly

2023  By-elections   2018 Harmonised Elections 
Candidate Sex Party Votes   Candidate Sex Party Votes
Paradza John M ZANU-PF 12147   Paradza John M ZANU-PF 14 139
Morudu Ephream M CCC 1258 Manguma Stanley 2998
Kurwa Robson M NCA 138
Mudzingwa Sebastian. M M Indpnt 1775        
Mupini Knowledge M MDC-T 536
Chinama Tauya M PRC 442

Local Authority 

2023  By-elections   2018 Harmonised Elections
Candidate Sex Party Votes   Candidate Sex Party Votes
Makumbe Jerry M ZANU-PF 1 685 Kuyerukani Faro M ZANU-PF 2024
Kasirowe Ezekiel M CCC 442 Tizai Mary F MDC A 1088
2023 By-elections   2018 Harmonised Elections
Candidate Sex Party Votes   Candidate Sex Party Votes
Gama Michael M ZAPU 25 Mpofu Richard Edwin M ZAPU 32
Ncube Mthelisi M ZANU-PF 238 Ncube Mthelisi M ZANU-PF 547
Qonda Tarcissius M

Source: ZESN


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