HARARE – Opposition parties are eyeing the Bikita West seat which will soon fall vacant following Zanu PF’s decision to expel Munyaradzi Kereke.
Kereke defied a Zanu PF order not to represent the party in the July 31 general elections. He refused to step down for Elias Musakwa.
As a result, Zanu PF ended up fielding two candidates Kereke and the gospel singer turned politician Musakwa.
Kereke won the contest with 7 270 votes to Musakwa’s 6 052. The MDC’s Heya Shoka polled 3 863 votes while the smaller MDC’s Benjamin Katema polled 415 votes.
A politburo meeting held on Wednesday resolved to declare the seat vacant, meaning there will be a by-election soon.
Zanu PF spokesperson Rugare Gumbo told reporters after the politburo meeting: “On Kereke, the party’s decision still stands, he is expelled. So we have advised the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, to declare the Bikita West post vacant and a by-election must be held.”
Opposition parties said yesterday they were ready to fight it out for the Bikita West constituency.
Douglas Mwonzora, the mainstream MDC spokesperson, said the by-election presents the ex-majority party with a redemption chance.
“We are going to contest the by-elections. Our chances of reclaiming the seat are very big,” Mwonzora said. “For us this is a very important by-election and we want to demonstrate that we have the support of the people. We hope that Lovemore Madhuku (interim leader of the newborn political party the National Constitutional Assembly) will contest the election and see that he does not have a following.”
After successfully transforming the NCA into an opposition political party, Madhuku is bubbling with confidence and yesterday he fancied his party’s chances of seizing the seat.
“It depends on when the election is going to be held,” Madhuku said.
“If the by-election takes place after our launch, we will be ready. It may be done before that. The bottom line is we are going to contest in any election that takes place after our launch, we will definitely take part.”.
The NCA has laid out its own six-month deadline to launch the newest political party, while the new Constitution states that if a seat is declared vacant, elections should be held within 90 days.
Madhuku yesterday said the party launch might take place soon and allow it to partake in the by-election.
The Welshman Ncube-led MDC is also raring to go. The party’s spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube said: “Unless if things have changed the party resolution is we will take part in every election because we believe in plurality and we will make sure people have an opportunity to determine who they prefer.”
However, Zanu PF was more guarded saying it was awaiting poll dates.
“I don’t think this is the right time to talk about the election. When it has been put in motion, we will talk,” Gumbo said.