By Fungai Kwaramba
HARARE – People in areas largely controlled by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC party dominated voting in the just-ended referendum, a signal that President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party has lots of work to do in its traditional Mashonaland strongholds.
Fierce rivals turned coalition partners, Mugabe and Tsvangirai are sharing glory of the near unanimous “yes” vote for a draft constitution they jointly conjured.
But, the referendum only sets the stage for a gruelling fight between the two men, who in 2009 were forced into a coalition after an inconclusive presidential election.
And with elections expected as early as July, both men were hoping to use the largely dead rubber referendum to whip their supporters into voting mood. While pessimists were predicting a low turn-out, Zimbabweans came out in large numbers to overwhelmingly endorse the draft charter.
But it seems it is in the MDC strongholds where appetite for voting is highest, judging by referendum figures released by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission. A record 3 316 082 people above the majority age of 18 voted last Saturday.
MDCs strongholds of Harare, Manicaland and Masvingo recorded the highest number of turnout. In Harare, the biggest province in terms of population 517 458 people cast their votes.
In Manicaland, where Zanu PF won five out of 26 House of Assembly seats in 2008, the turn-out stood at a massive 417 785. Results in Masvingo, a trouble spot for Zanu PF which has dispatched its trouble shooter Jabulani Sibanda to canvass support after a series of embarrassing defeats, turnout stood at 404 889.
In 2008 the MDC led by Tsvangirai won 96,55 percent of the seats in Harare and 76,92 percent in Manicaland. In Masvingo it managed to win 53,85 percent of the seats and in Matabeleland North 38,46 percent.
The party fared poorly in Zanu PF backwards of Mashonaland Central (11,11 percent), in Matabeleland South (16,67 percent), in Mashonaland East (17,39 percent), in Midlands (25.93 percent) and in Mashonaland West (27,27 percent).
During Saturday’s referendum, turnout in Mashonaland Central where Zanu PF still has a tight grip stood at 356 973 while in Mashonaland East, another Mugabe forte, 396 827 people cast their votes. Mugabe’s home province of Mashonaland West saw 363 624 people voting.
In 2008 when Zanu PF employed dirty tactics including violence and intimidation of opponents ahead of elections Zanu PF won 88,89 percent of the seats in Mashonaland Central, 82,61 percent in Mashonaland East and 72,73 percent in Mashonaland West.
Zanu PF and the MDC share almost equal support in provinces such as Midlands where voter turnout was 402 552. In the provinces of Matabeleland, Tsvangirai shares support with Welshman Ncube, leader of a breakaway MDC formation.
Matabeleland South had a 142 576 turnout with Matabeleland North, a swing province, recording a turnout of 177 227. The second largest city of Bulawayo, where Zanu PF does not have a single seat in parliament, turnout was 131 151. Daily News
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