Battle for Kaukonde seat looms

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JOSTLING for the Marondera Central constituency held by former Zanu PF Mashonaland East chairman Ray Kaukonde has already begun with several ruling party bigwigs reportedly already canvassing for the seat.

by Jairos Saunyama

Kaukonde was last week fired from Zanu PF together with six other senior Zanu PF officials accused of plotting to oust President Robert Mugabe together with axed former Vice-President Joice Mujuru.

A by-election is now imminent in Marondera as Zanu PF was expected anytime to recall from Parliament Kaukonde together with Mbire legislator David Butau and Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti who were part of the seven fired last week.

Prominent Marondera businessman and educationist Cleopas Kundiona was reportedly leading the Zanu PF list of candidates interested in the seat, while former Marondera wayor Farai Nyandoro is set to stand as an independent.

Other Zanu PF stalwarts reportedly eyeing the seat were Jerry Gotora, Richard Mavhunga and Harold Gamu.

However, all eyes are on Kundiona who was in July 2013 forced to withdraw from competing with Kaukonde during the Zanu PF primary elections.

Kaukonde was strategically imposed in Marondera from Mudzi East constituency to get rid of then incumbent former MDC-T member Iain Kay who was considered a serious threat to the ruling party.

Asked to comment on the issue yesterday, Kundiona could neither deny nor confirm his interest in the seat.

“I haven’t thought much about it, but as a Zanu PF loyalist, I have the right to go for the seat if I want. Remember last time, I wanted to participate in the primary elections, but I had to withdraw my candidature to pave way for Kaukonde,” he said.

“I could not compete with my superior in the party and had to respect that. If the seat becomes vacant, I am tempted to try again. I have been in the party for long and contributing immensely, such that no one will hinder me from competing.”

Kundiona, the owner of UMAA Group of Colleges, has been failing to become a legislator after three successive attempts.

He once attempted to be an MP in his rural home Marondera West before coming to Marondera Central.

However, Zanu PF will face still competition from Nyandoro if he decides to stand as an independent candidate.

Nyandoro was an MDC-T councillor for ward 9 in Marondera before being elected mayor in 2013.

He, however, ditched the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC-T and joined Renewal Team.

“I belong to Marondera and nothing can stop me from being an MP. I am still weighing my options,” said Nyandoro.