BY RICHARD MUPONDE
THE Zimbabwe Election Support Network (Zesn) has given the Mangwe parliamentary by-election campaign environment a clean sheet, describing it as peaceful with no reports of vote-buying by any of the parties contesting in the election scheduled for today.
But the main opposition MDC Alliance accused Zanu PF of engaging in voter intimidation and vote-buying.
In a report, Zesn national director Rindai Chipfunde-Vava, said the situation in Mangwe was calm and parties were freely campaigning for their candidates without any incidents.
“The political environment in Mangwe constituency is reported to be relatively calm and peaceful. Zesn’s long- term observer reports indicated that political campaigns for all political competitors were in full swing, with the most prominent campaigns being of Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance which have so far held several rallies,” Vava said.
She said the election watchdog was taken aback by the lack of primary elections among all the contesting parties to choose their representatives, which she said was a negation of the spirit of intra-party democracy.
“None of the political parties contesting the Mangwe by-election conducted primary elections to choose candidates. However, five prospective Zanu PF candidates applied to the party, but three were disqualified. Of the two who were successful, the wife (Hlalani Mguni) of the late former Zanu PF legislator (Obedingwa Madlala Mguni) was selected without the holding of primary elections. The absence of the primary elections negates the spirit of intra-party democracy,” she said.
Eight candidates from different political parties successfully lodged their papers with the nomination court which sat at Gwanda Magistrates’ Courts on July 26.
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However, the battle appears to be between Zanu PF’s Mguni and MDC Alliance’s Vincent Sihlalo.
The seat fell vacant when Zanu PF National Assembly deputy chief whip Mguni collapsed and died in Harare in April this year while attending Parliament.
Zesn said Zanu PF was likely to retain the seat, given the party’s performance in previous polls.