OPPOSITION Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) candidate for the Mwenezi East by-election Kudakwashe Bhasikiti has withdrawn from the poll citing voter intimidation and vote-buying by Zanu PF in collusion with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).
BY PAIDAMOYO MUZULU
The by-election could have been the party’s first poll after its trouncing in Bikita West in January.
The party also suffered a split last month with former leader Joice Mujuru rebranding to form the National People’s Party.
Bhasikiti yesterday confirmed his withdrawal in an interview with NewsDay.
“It’s no longer a threat. Combined with the deadlock we declared against Zec (on Tuesday) as opposition political parties, we have no business participating in anything managed by the current partisan Zec,” he said.
Bhasikiti’s withdrawal comes on the back of a Zimbabwe Peace Project (ZPP) report citing rampant vote-buying in the constituency by Zanu PF candidate Joosbi Omah.
ZPP said it was worried by the unfolding events in Mwenezi East and more concerned that with each by election conducted the same issues were being raised, but no one was taking any action to ensure that the electorate exercises its political rights in a conducive environment free of intimidation and other malpractices.
“On March 15, there was a Zanu PF rally at Masweswe Secondary School in ward 13. The rally started around 1400hrs. Zanu PF candidate Joosbi Omar distributed rice, a quantity of 1,5kg, to everyone who attended the rally regardless of political affiliation,” ZPP said.
The civil society organisation added a village head went on to address villagers hinting about the donation.
“After the donations, on March 18, the village head for village 4, a Mutsikwa, convened a meeting questioning why those who do not support the ruling party had accepted and benefited from Omar’s donations. The village head said those who do not have Zanu PF cards would not benefit from the cooking oil donations which, according to the village head, are expected on the 25th of March,” it added.
On voter intimidation, ZPP said: “Those that turned up for the intended ZimPF rally were allegedly followed to their homes by the Zanu PF district committee members and ordered to stop supporting opposition political parties.”