By Albert Nxumalo
Parliamentary and civic rights watchdog, Veritas Zimbabwe has reportedly raised a red flag on the upcoming Lupane East National Assembly by-election saying President Emmerson Mnangagwa failed to comply with the constitution.
The by-election is set for August 3, 2019.
The seat fell vacant following the death of Zanu PF legislator Sithembile Gumbo in April this year.
This is the first parliamentary by-election after the July 31 polls.
In a statement on Monday, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) said the elections would be held “after the 90 days period” which is mandated under the constitution.
“Veritas has raised concerns that the president did not comply with the constitution in proclaiming the date for the conduct of the by-election.
“The election will be held after the 90 days period within which a vacancy should be filled in accordance with both Sections 158(3) and 159 of the Constitution, and Section 39 of the Electoral Act,” reads part of the statement.
A field of nine candidates is scheduled to battle for the seat after successfully filling their nomination papers at the Western Commonage Magistrates Court in Mpopoma, Bulawayo last Friday.
In the last election 12 candidates contested of which six are trying their luck again.
However, only one of the contesting candidates, Alice Sibanda of the NCA, is a woman.
Zanu PF would be represented by its current National deputy Secretary for Education from the Youth League, 31-year-old Mbongeni Dube.
The main opposition MDC fielded former Legislator Dalumuzi
Khumalo who lost to the late Gumbo in July 31 elections.
Other candidates are Tshaba Andrew Magodla of Mthwakazi Republic of Zimbabwe (MRP), Given Ncube (Movement for Democratic Change led by Dr Thokozani Khupe), Gezekile Mkwebu of Zimbabwe African Union Party (Zapu), Njabulo Sibanda (National Patriotic Front) and Nelson Bhekinhlalo Mkandla (National Action Front Party).
Morgen Ndlovu of the Labour Economists and African Democrats (LEAD) Party and Alice Sibanda of the National Constitutional Assembly are also vying for the seat.
One aspiring candidate, Thomas Sibanda of the United African National Council (UANC), had his application rejected because he could not raise the required nomination fee of USD 50 or RTGS 300.
According to ZESN, the nomination process was not smooth sailing as several challenges where encountered.
Some of the candidates struggled to fill in the required forms, repeatedly being called to correct mistakes.
“At the time the Court closed, applicants were granted 30 minutes to correct mistakes on their applications.
“At some point, delays were encountered in the processing of applications as some of the aspiring candidates who were not aware of the USD 50 or RTGS 300 that needed to be paid as nomination fees were running around to secure the money.
“Problems with the swiping machine further caused a delay as the ZEC officers had to replace it,” said ZESN.
Based on the last three elections, Zanu PF has been gaining votes at a much faster rate than rivals with the main contender MDC losing ground.
In 2008, the MDC under late Dr Morgan Tsvangirai polled 1352 with Professor Welshman Ncube’s MDC getting 5424 while Zanu PF had 3368.
Five years later, MDC-T had 5305, MDC 1683 and Zanu PF polled 5537.
MDCs combined total dropped from 8792 to 6988 while Zanu PF rose from 3368 to 5537.
In the last election, MDC Alliance, an amalgmation of several political parties only managed 5791 votes compared to eventual winner Zanu PF with 7875 votes.