By Tatenda Mabasa
RUSAPE – Veteran women rights campaigner and journalist Grace Kwinjeh’s bid for public office is on verge of falling by the wayside following her poor showing in the second round of polls held in the orphaned Makoni Central yesterday.
Kwinjeh, who entered Saturday’s second round poll with a healthy 182 votes, only polled an additional 50 votes as five of the then remaining seven wards, voted, taking her ballot tally to 222. The election was called off a fortnight ago due to darkness at Nyabadza Business Centre.
The poll had started very late following disagreements over the composition of voting structures.
Voting continued yesterday and Kwinjeh, who was last year honoured for coming up with the name ‘Movement for Democratic Change, had surrendered the lead to diminutive and youthful Rusape businessman Mr Patrick Sagandira.
Sagandira entered the elections with 171 votes and polled an additional 119 votes in the mostly urban wards to take his total vote tally at 280.
However, voting was again, called off as was the case two weeks ago, due to darkness. Only Ward 7 and 11 had not voted and are expected to cast the deciding vote next weekend. The delay in the voting was caused, again, by haggling over the composition of the electoral college.
Deputy Woman Affairs Minister Jessie Majome, Senator Ceaphas Makuyana and provincial executive member Mr Teddy Chipere, presided over the election.
Interestingly, two candidates Mr Valentine Ziswa and Albert Muzhingi, who had garnered 76 and three votes, respectively, two weeks ago pulled off Saturday’s race to support Mr Sagandira.
“We have finally taken the lead. We are happy with the trust that the people of Makoni are showing in us. We are looking forward to the main battle, and we hope to work well with those cadres that have been supporting our sister horses.
This is what democracy is all about, you win and lose, but in the end we need to remain focused,” said Mr Sagandira’s campaign manager Mr Lovemore Chifomboti.
Nehanda Radio understands that Kwinjeh’s bright prospects were being threatened by her “absence from the ground” and reliance on emissaries who lacked strong footing in urban wards. Kwinjeh has lived in exile in Brussels, Belgium for the past three years.
She has been arrested several times on various trumped-up charges and has been held in solitary confinement. She was one of the high profile civic and political leaders brutally tortured on March 11, 2007 in Harare.
However, her truancy has left potential voters confused after fearing a repeat of the late former MP Mr John Nyamande era when he opted to shuttle to and from London to balance his parliamentary and family responsibilities. Mr Nyamande, died in a horrific car crash in November 2009.
He wrestled the seat from ZANU PF’s Patrick Chinamasa in the 2008 elections.
The winning MDC-T candidate will fight it out with either Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa or Mr Basil Nyabadza (both of Zanu PF) and Doctor Danmore Kusano of Mavambo. Chinamasa and Mr Nyabadza will square off on Wednesday.