THE just-ended Bikita West parliamentary by-election has claimed its first casualty, with the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF)’s Masvingo provincial chairperson, Claudius Makova, stepping down after he was allegedly accused of contributing to their candidate’s humiliating defeat.
By Tatenda Chitagu
Makova is accused of brushing aside the provincial executive’s advice and railroading the Joice Mujuru-led opposition party into the by-election without adequate preparations.
ZimPF’s Kudakwashe Gopo came a distant second with 2 453 votes against Zanu PF’s Beauty Chabaya, who garnered 13 156 votes and was duly declared winner.
Makova yesterday confirmed he had stepped down, but said he would remain an ordinary card-carrying member of the party.
“It is true, I have stepped down as the Masvingo provincial chair,” he said, adding he had written to Mujuru informing her of his decision.
“If you have failed as a leader, you have to resign. It is just like (former British Prime Minister) David Cameron, who resigned over Brexit simply because he had failed to block the move. You have to give others a chance,” he said, while denying any wrongdoing.
A leaked ZimPF letter dated August 12, 2016 and addressed to Mujuru confirmed reports that the party’s provincial executive was against participating in the by-election.
In the letter, signed by then interim provincial chair, William Zivenge, the executive warned that participating in the by-election would be a “betrayal to opposition politics in Zimbabwe”, since ZimPF was part of the National Electoral Reform Agenda (Nera).
Nera is a loose coalition of opposition parties demanding implementation of electoral reforms before they can participate in next year’s general elections.
Zivenge’s letter, which was copied to the interim head of mobilisation, interim chairpersons of national committees and the interim head of security, reads: “The interim provincial executive council members reiterated their position that they were against participating in the said by-election. It is not in the best interests of the party to participate because the party is a signatory to Nera and participating will jeopardise any future talks for a coalition with other players, as we would have given a picture that we cannot have a clear position as a party and, therefore, cannot be trusted.
“Participating in the by-election is also in a way legitimising the status quo with regards to the electoral playing field. On that note, we will be viewed as an extension of Zanu PF.
“If we go into the by-election and lose, we give our opponent, Zanu PF, massive room to manoeuvre and ridicule ZimPF as a non-entity and as if we are not a serious player. On the other hand, even if we win, it is likely to be a pyrrhic victory in the sense that it will harden Zanu PF not to undertake any electoral reforms, as it will use this as an example that the electoral playing field is even or needs further tightening.”
The ZimPF provincial executive correctly predicted a Zanu PF landslide victory.