FORMER MDC-T legislator, Heya Shoko has vowed to defy the odds and reclaim the Bikita West parliamentary seat, which he lost to now-jailed ex-MP Munyaradzi Kereke in the 2013 nationalelections.
BY VENERANDA LANGA
Shoko, who is contesting the constituency’s by-election as an independent candidate, yesterday said he was confident of a landslide victory, describing his opponents, including Zanu PF’s Beauty Chabaya, as “politically weak”.
“I have an advantage of reclaiming the seat compared to the Zanu PF candidate, who I regard as difficult to sell as a candidate,” he said.
“She has no political reputation in Bikita, as she is now married and lives in Mutare, although originally she is from Bikita.
“Even Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa found it very difficult to sell her candidature when he came for a rally last week and I do not see Chabaya, as a threat at all. The other candidates come from little-known parties, while the Zimbabwe People First candidate, Kudakwashe Gopo, belongs to a political party made up of people who used to be perpetrators of political violence in Bikita.”
The 44-year-old former legislator said he was unmoved by the massive campaign machinery rolled out by Zanu PF last week, as it drummed up support for its candidate.
Shoko won the Bikita West seat in the 2008 on an MDC-T ticket, but later parted ways with the Morgan Tsvangirai-led party after he defected to Tendai Biti’s People’s Democratic Party, which he has since dumped.
During his five-year stint as an MP, Shoko claimed he impressed Bikita constituents by embarking on a number of community developmental projects such as construction of classroom blocks at Mupakwa, Mashavhi, Mukangarwi, Chirumba and Bikita Masunda secondary schools.
“The people of Bikita still have faith in me, and Bikita has always been an MDC-T stronghold since 2000,” he said.
Shoko said he had great respect for Kereke as an MP, as the former legislator began embarking on projects in the constituency long before he was elected.
Other candidates contesting the January 21 by-election are Madock Chivasa (National Constitutional Assembly), Tanyaradzwa Makumbo (Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe) and Innocent Muzvimbiri, an independent.