Zimbabwe will hold by-elections next year to fill over 133 seats for councillors and Members of the House of Assembly despite threats to boycott the elections by some opposition politicians who fear losing to Zanu PF, has President Mnangagwa confirmed.
The by-elections are scheduled to be held in the first quarter of next year with public health measures now considered good enough to contain the spread of Covid-19.
President Mnangagwa told a bumper crowd at Dulivhadzimu Stadium on Wednesday in Beitbridge East constituency that his party was not bothered by the empty threats as Zanu PF was ready to take everything on offer.
The Zanu PF’s First Secretary and President visited the border town on Wednesday to commission 28 staff houses for public servants built under the Beitbridge Redevelopment Houses.
The houses are part of 52 standard F14 houses, 64 garden flats in 16 blocks, 250 core houses, and a host of infrastructure development that fall under the same initiative that includes the US$300 million Beitbridge Border Modernisation.
“We are going into elections in 2023, but before that we should be having by-elections next year to fill vacancies for ward councillors and in the legislature,” said President Mnangagwa.
“So, we are hearing through the media that some parties within the opposition circles are planning to boycott by-elections. Gore rinouya tichaita ma by-elections iwayo tovasvasvanga, asi muna 2023 tovarakasha (We will go ahead with by-elections next year and have a clean sweep and in 2023 we will thoroughly defeat them).
“They are afraid of getting into elections. We are not deterred, we will go ahead with elections and will win. We will get all the seats”.
Most of the vacancies in local authorities and Parliament were created when the Supreme Court ruled that Mr Nelson Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of the MDC-T and the High Court ruled that the MDC-A was an electoral pact, not a political party in its own right.
This resulted in the MDC-T recalling councillors, MPs and senators who belonged to that party under the MDC-A banner but refused to acknowledge the court judgments.
It is understood that the MDC-A is now threatening to boycott elections in the absence of “reforms”, this is despite initial calls by that grouping that Zanu PF was using Covid-19 to avoid the by-elections.
President Mnangagwa challenged Zanu PF supporters to continue strengthening the party from grassroots starting from the level of the cell.
He said teamwork, unity, and harmony were very critical in moving the party forward, adding that Matabeleland South and Mashonaland Central provinces have always delivered in all elections.
“The party should be strengthened from cell level, and we should keep working together as a unit and in harmony.
“I am impressed by the crowd at Beitbridge today and I am requesting that the vice chairperson of this province arranges another rally where we will interact for more hours,” said the President.
The President was at Dulivhadzimu Stadium for the second time following his visit in 2018 where he addressed many supporters at the same venue.
He said Zimbabweans had to build and run the country on their own.
“So, let’s not be hoodwinked by those who want to rule this country with someone holding their hand.”
The President said under the Second Republic, no stone will be left unturned and that in all the wards, districts and provinces there will be tremendous transformation under the devolution programme and the Vision 2030.
President Mnangagwa said his administration had covered a lot of ground in terms of economic and infrastructure development which Zimbabweans must cherish. Dams were being constructed countrywide to promote irrigation-based farming that will boost food production to cut the import bill on food.
“We should not import food, so each province is required to be productive. Agriculture inputs will be given free to A1 and communal farmers, while those with A2 will have to buy the inputs. We want to ease the burden on A1 and communal farmers to be productive under the Pfumvudza/Intwasa initiatives,” said the President.
Each region would be supported to industrialise based on the major economic drivers in that area, with livestock and citrus production being the major economic sectors in Matabeleland South.