ED frees up political space: Zesn

BY NQOBANI NDLOVU

A LOCAL independent election watchdog has attributed an increase in the number of political parties eyeing Lupane East constituency, which has been widely regarded as a Zanu PF stronghold, to an improvement in civic and political rights since the pre-2018 election period.

A by-election will be held in Lupane East tomorrow to fill a vacancy that arose following the death of Zanu PF legislator Sithembile Gumbo on April 5.

Nine political parties are eyeing the seat, with MDC Alliance’s 2018 election losing candidate Dalumuzi Khumalo being one of them.

In a commentary, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn), said it was refreshing to note an increase in the number of political parties eyeing Lupane East
constituency, an improvement from only three — Zanu PF, MDC and MDC-T — that contested for the seat in 2008.

“The three political parties contested again in 2013 and were joined by Zapu and an independent candidate (Mhlanga Kenneth). In 2018, a record 12 parties
contested for the National Assembly seat.

“Perhaps, the rise in the number of electoral contestants can be attributed to the relative improvement in the enjoyment of civic and political rights,
especially the freedoms of movement, assembly, and association for political candidates and their supporters which prevailed in the pre-election period of
2018,” Zesn said.

Zanu PF, MDC Alliance, Mthwakazi Republic Party (MRP), Labourers Economists African Democrats [LEADS] led by Linda Masarira, MDC-T, National Patriotic Front,
NCA, Zapu and National Action Party are contesting the seat.

The constituency has been widely regarded as a Zanu PF stronghold since 2013.

Zanu PF grabbed the seat from the MDC then led by Welshman Ncube that had won it in 2008. The ruling party retained the seat in the 2018 harmonised elections.

“. . . The margin with which Zanu PF won the Lupane East election widened between these two elections, however, the combined votes received by the opposition
political parties that contested the same elections remain greater than what Zanu PF received,” Zesn said.

“It is, therefore, apparent that coalition building remains one of the potentially viable options that may help enhance competition in elections and improve
prospects for all electoral contestants.”

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