Ward 28 residents in Bulawayo will head to the polls at the end of this month to elect a new councillor with political parties already on the ground canvassing for votes.
The seat fell vacant following the death of the incumbent councillor Hapson Ncube in December last year.
Some of the candidates vying for the post include Kidwell Mujuru (Zanu PF), Nokuthula Ndlovu (ZAPU), Nkosikhona Nyoni (MRP), Merjury Dube (UDA), Collet Ndhlovu (MDC Alliance) and Nomagugu Mloyi (MDC Alliance) among others.
MDC Alliance co-spokesperson Edwin Ndlovu said the party will on March 23 hold a rally as means of campaigning for upcoming Ward 28 by-election.
Ndlovu told CITE in an interview that he is positive the party will have an outright win for the councillor’s post because of the positive response they have been getting from the people.
“The reception we have been getting from people is tremendous. Since July 2018 we have been engaging with the people. On March 23 we will have a rally at White City stadium for our Ward 28 campaign,” said Ndlovu.
Ndlovu said the party is yet to confirm with ZEC if Nomagugu Mloyi has withdrawn her papers.
“We are yet to confirm with ZEC if she has withdrawn her papers. It is entirely up to the individual to withdraw. However we will dwell much into the issue when the time comes. For now we are, focusing on campaigning for the party to win the by-election, ” he said.
However, in an interview with this publication Mloyi said she was not going to step down and will continue campaigning.
Some of the residents who spoke to CITE said the new councillor must prioritise service delivery.
Sukoluhle Mhlanga, Ward 28 secretary for the disabled in the Bulawayo Progressive Residents Association (BPRA) said the by-election is likely to be a tough one for the MDC Alliance as the two candidates might split the votes.
“We haven’t really seen much of campaigning at the moment but people are watching closely what the outcome for MDC Alliance will be, considering two members from the same party are contesting. There is a danger of serious split of votes,” she said.
She added “We look forward to having a councillor who has the people at heart, one who will value inclusion. The decisions they make must cater for people with disabilities. For example at the new stands, there is no water, disabled people have to walk long distances to access communal taps. Most of them can’t afford to pay monies demanded by the city council to connect water for them. The councillor to be elected should at least lobby for payment plans for people living with a disability.”
Mhlanga said the new councillor will have to prioritise the clinic project since the area does not have one.
“The clinic will be built from the ward retention fund hence we expect the clinic to be finished by the time this term finishes”.
Another resident Bongani Sibanda, chairperson of Youth Focus Development Aid Trust said it is difficult to tell which candidate will win the elections as residents are not showing any signs of alignment to specific candidates.
“Ward 28 residents are mostly young and educated, they believe in speaking through the ballot box. None of them have showed any specific alignment to specific candidates hence we await to see who will win the election,” he said.
Sibanda said the councillor who will come in has to assist residents to access commercial stands.
“Cowdray Park is fast growing. Due to the unavailability of employment in the country, we
implore the city council to avail commercial stands. You will find there are people who have turned some of their houses into crèches. This is because the city council is not availing stands for such projects. May the incoming councillor assist residents to acquire these,” he said.
Sibanda said church leaders are also decrying the unavailability of stands for churches in the area.
“It is mostly the traditional churches that are acquiring stands from the council. New churches and the apostolic ones are struggling hence they end up operating from backyards or from the bushes. We hope the new councillor will represent our needs,” he said.
Sibanda said there is a vast need for the new councillor to work on availing schools in the area.
“Children from the new stands struggle to attain an education as they walk long distances to school. There are also many who come from under privileged families and do not attend school at all. The new councillor should at least embark on projects to who will uplift the lives of the underprivileged and marginalised to have access to education,” he said.