IT may sound unbelievable, but just like in the movies; the Zanu PF primary elections held in Murewa North were described as a circus befitting the movies by legislator Marbel Nkatazo (pictured) (Proportional Representation Zanu PF).
By Veneranda Langa
Nkatazo described to NewsDay how one of the contestants Daniel Garwe snatched all ballot papers during the primary elections and ran away with them in very dramatic fashion that could provide a very good script for the movies. The following are excerpts of an interview between Nkatazo (MN) and NewsDay senior Parliamentary reporter Veneranda Langa on this and other issues.
ND: Honourable Nkatazo, you recently contested in the Zanu PF primary elections in a bid to represent Murewa North as MP, did you manage to win?
MN: I am now out of the race to represent Murewa North as MP because there was a lot of drama during the primary elections caused by one of the candidates, Daniel Garwe. This candidate was so cunning and dramatic that before voting even started during the primary elections, he just snatched all the ballot papers and ran away with them, leaving all other contestants amazed and helpless. We reported the issue to the police and the Zanu PF Mashonaland East Province, but nothing was done about the issue. When voting and counting of the ballots was completed they just declared the elections free and fair without even taking our complaints about Garwe’s behaviour seriously. What further amazed me and other candidates was that the figures that were announced seemed very inflated. Garwe was said to have polled 4 765 votes, Nkatazo 1 308 votes, Cleopas Chinyadza 461 votes, Tendai Makunde 410 and Eunice Mangwende 146 votes. Everything was so dramatic that we witnessed people that had three ballot papers. They still declared him the winner despite the serious anomalies.
ND: Were you able to campaign freely before the primary elections were held?
MN: I never even got a fair chance to campaign at all. Garwe would move around the constituency with some war veterans pretending that they were campaigning for President Emmerson Mnangagwa and yet they were actually campaigning for him. They would leave us behind. It was so disappointing because I thought that I would be given a chance as a woman. Whenever we mounted our posters they would tear and remove them. There was also a lot of vote-buying whereby people were given money and food handouts to coerce them to vote for Garwe. We witnessed a lot of bussing-in of voters, and old people were carried in lorries so that they cast votes for Garwe.
As a female candidate, I have no financial clout and I just could not compete with Garwe.
ND: You are currently a Proportional Representation MP, what made you to want to represent a constituency this time around?
MN: I thought that as a female I should show that I have grown as a politician and become a constituency representative instead of a PR MP. I wanted to represent a constituency because I noted that Murewa North needs a progressive MP that can bring in development such as clinics and solving hunger issues that affect the district.
ND: What did you achieve during your stint as PR MP since 2013?
MN: I achieved a lot of things even if I did not have a constituency. I assisted a lot of people with medical bills, including paying $3 500 for a child who had hernia complications. I sunk a borehole at one school in Murewa, and also assisted seven schools with electricity transformers. I electrified four clinics and assisted women and youths with several self-help projects that included farming, where I gave them inputs like seed and fertiliser, as well as assisted them in sewing projects. As an MP I have always been helpful, providing transport to the constituents whenever there was need for the youth and women to attend Zanu PF meetings or conferences. I have also assisted people with disabilities and orphans with food and clothing. As PR legislators we do not get constituency development fund (CDF) so I had to source for the funding.
In Parliament I sit in three portfolio committees, Mines and Energy, Health and Child Welfare and Lands and Agriculture. I have been participating in Parliament during debates, but at the end of the session we were not allowed to make significant contributions on different issues because of the whipping system. However, one of my main achievements was to continuously grill the Health minister David Parirenyatwa over provision of an X-Ray machine for Murewa. This has since been done and an X-Ray machine and a steriliser have since been installed at the hospital and this has assisted a lot of people.
ND: Since you lost the bid to be MP again, would you say it is a loss for women?
MN: It is definitely a loss for women because we have always been lobbying for more female MPs. When one looks at the work of female MPs on the ground you will find that we worked hard and brought in development. However, during primary elections there is a lot of vote-buying and most females are given money to support male candidates.
ND: So, are you going to contest again in 2023?
MN: Definitely, I am still considering coming back to Parliament because I feel I still have a lot to do for the people of Murehwa. I am a compassionate person and I still want to help the people there.