CHEGUTU – Dexter Nduna and Charlton Hwende have no strong political experience to talk about, but they have lined themselves up for selection in the coming harmonised polls for Chegutu West.
Nduna will contest on a Zanu PF ticket while Hwende is riding on an MDC platform.
They both have money and are prominent businesspeople in their own right.
Will their cash and business empires lure unemployed youths in Chegutu West to vote for them in the coming polls?
Although Nduna garnered over 7 000 votes in the controversial Zanu PF primary polls, little information is available about his political life except his donation of a house to President Robert Mugabe early this year when he turned 89.
Nduna, a 41-year-old Methodist Church member, has largely remained a shadowy figure in Chegutu West, but retained a heroic glow among the youths who say “he gives us cash and assistance in times of need.”
Zanu PF supporters told the Daily News over the weekend that they supported Nduna because, “he is a local donor ready to share his resources with the poor”.
“Nduna is paying school fees for our children; he has built a science laboratory at St Francis Secondary School and is currently renovating our fruit market,” said Tatenda Chibodza, a Chegutu resident.
Nduna, according to his backers, has also helped several needy families in his constituency through projects and cash.
“He has helped many youths, and has given our team (Chegutu Pirates) sponsorship and donated to a women’s club,” Chibodza said.
But will this translate into votes?
“Zanu PF does not have anything to offer which can lure the youths,” said Nduna’s rival Hwende, a national executive member of Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC representing Mashonaland West.
“This year’s election is about the future and not money and beer which Nduna is giving out,” Hwende , a former student union leader said.
He can give out his money but if he does not address fundamental economic policies, then he is doomed.”
While Nduna’s supporters say their party is driving indigenisation and economic empowerment, a programme that has been discredited by many, Hwende says his party will be focusing on job creation.
He said his campaign message will be extracted from the party’s JUICE (Jobs, Upliftment, Investment, Capital and Environment) policy.
“Zanu PF has destroyed Chegutu and its industrial hub,” Hwende said. “There is nothing that will come from Zanu which a sensible voter can trust other than beer and money which is not lasting.”
Mai Kachingwe, a vendor, said both top candidates and said they both have no known political history in Chegutu.
Through his Badon Civil Engineering firm, Nduna claims to have dug a 12-km fibre optic cable trench as a social responsibility gesture.
But Hwende said he suspects that Nduna could be a State spy set up to “cause confusion in Chegutu”.
“That is Chiadzwa money being used to confuse voters,” Hwende said. “Zanu PF is targeting Chegutu West and Chinhoyi and they want to use cash which will not work.
“I don’t understand how his money will transform into votes. He is busy refurbishing the stadium, how will that bring food on the table? His party caused the demise of David Whitehead, surely people cannot vote for them knowing what the MDC has done in the past four years.”
On the other hand, Zanu PF supporters say Nduna “has what it takes to win back the seat” from the MDC due to alleged dismal performance by Takalani Prince Matibe, the outgoing legislator for the constituency.
“Shamwari Matibe akatadza ku perfomer muno,” said Tafadzwa Mbadzi from Ward 25. “It is time Zanu PF takes this constituency from these sell-outs, Nduna is the man.”
Matibe failed to get the required two-thirds majority confirmation which led to his withdrawal from the subsequent primary polls.
“To me, it is not about Nduna or Hwende, it is about the future,” Kachingwe said. “If they are able to articulate the future and what their parties stand for, I will vote for anyone.
“Nduna has been dominating here maybe because he is coming from Zanu PF and has the support of the police, making it easier for him to hold rallies. I will wait for Hwende to tell us what he has for the future of Chegutu,” she said.
Another resident in the once industrial hub of Mashonaland West Province said Chegutu’s woes demand “a person who can bring projects and not take our money.”
“Politicians should not abuse us, they should fulfil what they promise us and not hibernate after getting our votes, and we want a person who stays here. Zanu PF has failed and the outgoing MDC MP also failed to link us with development,” said Donald Chirara, a shop attendant in the small mining town.
“Nduna is popular but some of us are concerned about ideas and issues. We are not voting for food but the future,” Chirara said.
“We want a representative who can transform Chegutu into an industrial hub, our children have to go to school,” Chirara added.
Whatever the case, it is a battle of cash and ideas.