By Sij Ncube
Zanu PF national political commissar Saviour Kasukuwere has taken a jibe at Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader Joice Mujuru, saying the former ruling party vice president should disband her “project” following the new opposition’s loss in the weekend Bikita West by-election.
Zanu PF candidate Beauty Chabaya posted a thumping victory, garnering 13 156 votes while ZimPF’s Kudawashe Gopo polled 2 453 in a poll election monitors say was marred by violence, intimidation and vote-buying.
Four other candidates who took part in the by-election shared a paltry 1000 plus votes.
The seat was left vacant following the jailing last year of Zanu PF legislator Munyaradzi Kereke for raping a minor relative.
A gloating Kasukuwere told RadioVOP after the poll outcome the ZimPF “project” was doomed from the onset.
“They won’t survive this failure. They should disband and retire,” Kasukuwere said of his former boss.
But analysts says it is a learning curve for the party formed last year after Mujuru and a handful party allies were unceremoniously kicked out of Zanu PF for allegedly fanning factionalism in attempts to dislodge President Mugabe from the helm of the party.
Rights groups and poll watchers have however discredited the Bikita West poll outcome citing violence, intimidation and other irregularities directed at opponents by Zanu PF loyalists.
In a report on Monday, ZimRights reported that accredited Zanu PF polling agents were seen outside some polling stations writing names of villagers who came to vote, a move that caused worries of intimidation.
“Intimidation, or the harvest of terror still lingering in rural communities after the unhealed political violence of 2008, appeared to be the most unfortunate way in which the ruling party Zanu PF’s officials tried to sway the vote in favour of their party candidate whether that had a bearing on the outcome or not,” read part of the ZimRights report.
“Coupled with this un-free environment, it would always be worrying to have assisted voters in a constituency approximating 1 000 with 11 wards.”
The human rights body challenged the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission to find a way of stopping election agents outside polling stations from writing the names of people coming to vote, pointing out that such activities have often been linked to voter intimidation.
“Lessons learnt from the Bikita West by-election are that the behaviour of political actors during elections continues to enable human rights violations, there is still need to respect citizens’ freedom of political choice, and stakeholders need to work extremely hard to end the culture of intimidation,” it added. Radio VOP