OPPOSITION Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader, Joice Mujuru is set for an historic campaign visit to Masvingo in her first electoral face-off with Zanu PF ahead of a by-election for the Bikita West constituency set for January 21, which will not necessarily define her political career, but will go a long way in showing what she is made of.
BY RICHARD CHIDZA
Kudakwashe Gopo, ZimPF’s candidate, will be Mujuru’s first candidate in an election since she turned to opposition politics in the aftermath of her unceremonious sacking from Zanu PF at the tail-end of 2014.
ZimPF spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire told NewsDay Weekender in an interview yesterday that Mujuru was finalising plans to visit the volatile constituency that has since 2000 oscillated between Zanu PF and the MDC-T.
“It is true, the president (Mujuru) will be in Bikita West before the election to seek support for our candidate,” he said.
“It is definite that she will go, but we have a few logistical areas we need to attend to before a date is announced.”
Mawarire said they were in with a big chance of bagging the seat, as they were fielding a youthful candidate.
“For us, the young candidate we are presenting is an indication of the quality of candidates we are going to field in the general election,” he said.
“We are also going to field a relatively young presidential candidate, who is still willing to run around and work for the people, different from the Stone Age cast-in-stone mindset we currently have.”
Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T, as has become the norm, is boycotting the poll, but indications are that the former premier is likely to throw his weight behind the ZimPF candidate.
With political commentators arguing Mujuru’s plunge into the electoral minefield could make or break her young party, Mawarire said such arguments could be misplaced.
“It would be folly for anyone to think they could extrapolate the results of a by-election and use them to determine what may happen in a general election,” he said. “Each election has its own idiosyncrasies. We would want to win Bikita West, but I must say we have some specific pointers we are looking at besides the overall result.”
Impeccable sources this week said Mujuru wants other opposition leaders to accompany her to Bikita, as part of the ongoing plan to form a coalition that will present a single presidential candidate against President Robert Mugabe in elections next year.
“She (Mujuru) is working on a plan that could bring together opposition leaders to campaign for her candidate in a test case of what could happen in the coming general election,” an insider said.
“That is the logistics they are talking about.”
Acting President Emmerson Mnangagwa has already been to the constituency to campaign for Zanu PF.
Gopo will contest the election against Zanu PF’s Beauty Chabaya, Madock Chivasa (National Constitutional Assembly), Progressive Democrats of Zimbabwe’s Tanyaradzwa Makumbo and two independents, Heya Shoko and Innocent Muzvimbiri.
The seat fell vacant following the jailing of Zanu PF’s Munyaradzi Kereke after his conviction for raping his niece at gunpoint.