BY BLESSED MHLANGA
THE Nelson Chamisa-led MDC has admitted that it has no sound structures in rural areas, a move that has allowed Zanu PF to have a stroll in the park in many council and parliamentary by-elections.
The admission by MDC national spokesperson Daniel Molokele came after the opposition party lost recent by-elections in Tsholotsho Rural District Council wards 16 and 20, and Hwedza Rural District Council ward 4.
The losses came despite President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s reported administration’s poor handling of the economy, which has seen inflation skyrocketing to three digits, shortage of cash, some basic goods, medicines, fuel and rolling power cuts.
“We don’t have structures in the area, no, not yet. In line with our recent congress resolution, we will be setting up polling station-based branches there soon,” Molokele told NewsDay yesterday.
The MDC has been struggling to make inroads into the rural electorate, where Zanu PF has held firm, although the opposition has maintained its hegemony on the urban vote.
Molokele said there were complex issues that influenced the rural vote which the party needed to address.
“Having been recently involved in the by-elections in Tsholotsho, Mangwe and Lupane East, I have learnt that there are a lot of complex issues that influence voting trends,” he said.
“The bottom line is these elections are not a popularity contest at all. There is a lot that still needs to be done to make our elections more about the electorate, especially in the rural areas. For now, it is all about systemic issues that clearly favour Zanu PF.”
The main opposition has, in previous elections, failed to field candidates in some council and parliamentary elections for one reason or the other. In the last general elections, they did not have polling agents at some polling stations.
Meanwhile, the Zimbabwe Electoral Support Network (Zesn) said the three by-elections all won by Zanu PF were held in a peaceful environment.
“In keeping with observer reports received during the pre-election period, the political environment has been reported to be tranquil in the three local authority by-elections with no incidents,” Zesn said.
The electoral watchdog, however, noted a high number of assisted voters, which has always been a concern in rural elections.
“At Nata Primary School polling station, 11 voters had been assisted. Some of the assisted voters were visually impaired, while others were illiterate. Relatively, higher numbers of 28 assisted voters were recorded at Shaba Primary School polling station in Tsholotsho ward 16, and 17 (assisted voters were recorded) at Tongogara Primary School polling station in Hwedza RDC ward 4,” part of Zesn’s observer report read.