In an attempt to compete in the forthcoming March 9 by-election to fill the Chinhoyi Ward 4 council seat, THREE candidates have successfully filed nomination papers.
The post became vacant after Archibold Muzanenhamo, the declared winner of the harmonised elections on August 23 and 24, had his victory reversed by the High Court in Chinhoyi.
Muzanenhamo, commonly known as Nyazamba, is running as an independent and will face Ignatius Zvigadza of Zanu PF, his fiercest opponent who launched the legal case that caused the results to be reversed.
Ignatius Blessed Chari, an independent, is entering the race as a dark horse.
Shepherd Kawocha, the Makonde district elections officer for the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC), verified the outcomes of the Nomination Court, which convened last week before the elections.
“Since there were more than two properly nominated candidates, by elections for Chinhoyi Ward 4 will take place on Saturday, March 9, 2024.”
He asked candidates to run their campaigns nonviolently till March 7, 2024, at midnight.
“The electorate has the responsibility to exercise their constitutional right to vote, and we will carry out our voter education from March 1, 2024, until March 5, 2024,” Kawocha continued.
In protest of the chaotic candidate selection procedure within his party, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC), Muzanenhamo ran as an independent in the August 2023 polls.
The young politician then easily defeated Ward 4 council member Zvigadza in a stunning victory that stunned the local political establishment. He was elected to the Chinhoyi Municipality as the lone independent council member.
Zvigadza took an uncommon step and filed a lawsuit, claiming that Muzanenhamo had violated the Electoral Act by buying votes and organising supporters at his company, which was 300 metres away from a polling place.
Muzanenhamo disputed in his notice of opposition papers filed with the High Court that he had ever sold alcohol and soft drinks to potential voters at his store or liquor store.
Given that the petitioner’s claimed irregularities did not exist, the results that were declared accurately reflect the will of the electorate.
“I didn’t solicit votes on election day, either within or outside the 300 metres around Chengetanayi Old People’s Home polling station. There was no vote buying as claimed,” Muzanenhamo stated.
He refuted the claim that his grocery store was open only to give prospective voters soda and beer.
“As per normal, I opened the store to offer groceries to customers. The bottle shop I opened is subject to the same rules. I never gave voters alcohol and soft drinks, as has been claimed.
“The petitioner is required to at least give the complete identities of the people whose votes they claim I purchased. Additionally, he needs to present proof from these people that he did, in fact, purchase their votes.
“He needs to show proof that the people who visited my store on election days are, in fact, registered voters—especially for Ward 4 Chinhoyi and that they cast ballots on the relevant dates.”
Judge Philda Muzofa of the Chinhoyi High Court declared that a new election should be held to select a ward representative because the evidence suggested irregularities in the voting process.
As a result, a by-election has been set for the swing ward, where the quality of the candidates always determines who supports Zanu PF and the opposition.
Zvigadza, a former council member, is optimistic about making a comeback.
The voters of Hunyani, Federation, and Infill genuinely regret their choice to support Muzanenhamo in the previous election. The clinic’s roof was destroyed by a hailstorm in November, and as a result, service delivery has declined.
“Illegal dumps have multiplied, sewer bursts are taking a month to fix, and the council member hasn’t held a single feedback meeting. Regarding the second contender, Chari, he is essentially unimportant, so I won’t waste any more time discussing him. In an interview, Zvigadza declared, “I am taking back Ward 4.”