MASVINGO URBAN SEAT CONTESTATION: A PROGNOSIS OF POLITICAL CONUNDRUM
11 August 2023
By Nyahunda Struggle Desire
Victory favours the fortunate
Victoria favet fortuna
The stronger shall continue.
These were words of political demagogues amongst them Amiclar Cabral and Roosevelt. Political contestation is not a new discourse in the political field but an extension of a branch and physiology of an elitist arrangement so embroiled in the state of affairs of a given constituency, ward or setting.
Without much digression, the battle of titans in Masvingo Urban is one to be recorded in the Guinness books for future generations and referencing of a war that never was. The political battle of Masvingo Urban Constituency has attracted several debates with pundits and analysts submitting their own views anchored on theoretical assumptions and hypothesis some which are not only skewed but lacks merit to find space in the archives of history. Having been in the trenches of campaigns, overseeing the technical side and mobilisation set up ongoing, I am compelled to add my political voice in an attempt demystify some myths peddled by detractors.
There are three major political actors in the race of Masvingo Urban Constituency CONTESTATION which pits Zanu Pf represented by land baron Mahwende Wellington, Current City Mayor Maboke Collen in the political wilderness of fortunes under the guise of Independent banner and Citizens Coalition for Change represented by the Human Rights award winning Lawyer Martin Mureri. I can not waste my time talking of a once formidable party under the monicker MDCA represented by Mazarire Benjamin, because it’s a pity that his name was submitted to the nomination court to humiliate him and take away the remaining political dignity around him.
After reading the manifestos of the 3 political actors which I think should have been the guiding principles of the 5 year tenure of office, I am compelled to think that it is not populism that shall guide the people of Masvingo Urban to elect their next MP but a lot of things amongst them political inclination and the principle. At one point in time, as a development practitioner, theorists agreed that blue prints have gone into a full cycle and what is happening now is a regurgitation of the prior, a view which I strongly share with cautious steps of care as I traverse on the terrain of implementation and applicability, a pillar which determines the road to victory and development. Be that as it may, these blue prints are nothing if political inclination is divorced from the will of the people and a failed ideology and political route.
I attended a dialogue organised by Tellzim media house at Chevron Hotel weeks ago where Mayor Maboke physically attended, Advocate Mureri physically attended and Deputy Mayor Mahwende send his representative Charles Munganasa. The three presented their manifestos in the full glare of 100s of attendees and questions and answer session was provided.
I then understood why it is difficulty for those in authority and power to come back to people after 5 years to campaign because chances are high that they will be coming back to promise what they failed to do or implement during their term of office but now lying in various ways. I will highlight in passing the presentations made thereof.
Mahwende Wellington, ZANU PF
~ His campaign is anchored on the Vic range housing scheme which he brags that he initiated the housing policy in Masvingo
~He bragged that he was elected the deputy Mayor of Masvingo City by the opposition Councillors under MDCA because they looked around themselves and failed to get a suitable candidate to be deputise Maboke Collen Maboke
~ He bragged that under his tenure they managed to construct West End clinic which was however opened by Mohadi Kembo the Zanu Pf Vice President
~He claimed that he will move to modernise the roads under Masvingo Urban jurisdiction
~He however bemoaned that the council resolutions affected their term of office as opposition Councillors were fighting and some were recalled.
Maboke Collen, Independent
~ His campaign is anchored on the repeal of the Urban Councils Act which he said was the limiting factor to the success of Urban Councils
~He is basing his campaign on a non partisan pillar which he believes is killing Zimbabwean politics, hence independent
~He is saying the people shall decide his fate and he will caucus with them whenever there is a binding decision to be made in parliament rather than relying on political party caucuses
~He is also said he achieved a lot as a City Mayor under MDCA and his success will determine his term of office as an Urban Constituency MP
Advocate Mureri Martin, CCC
~His pillar of campaign is based on the establishment of a women cluster charter which shall push the issues of Masvingo Urban women
~He said he shall establish a Constituency Development Committee which shall oversee the affairs of development in the Constituency and that committee shall have jurisdiction over CDF with inclusion of SDC committes, Church leaders, academics and opinion leaders
~He promised to be the voice of Masvingo Urban in the Constituency, and to be the eye of government oversight in all institutions in the Constituency
~He promised to push a parliamentary agenda which shall be pro people as he carries vast knowledge from the law field and a defender of political victims, women abuses, children abuses and realignment of all legal statutes as there must be harmonisation of the 2013 constitution and all amendments.
Notwithstanding the above, the tale of 2 mayors who are basing their campaigns on Urban Councils Act and their overated achievements in their term of office in the council. For anyone from Zanu Pf party to blame the lack of resolution on transformation of cities during his term of office is an indictment to humanity because it is the minister of local government who happens to be the defacto Mayor of all cities as there is no policy which can be passed by councils without his permission. For someone who has been in Masvingo to hear Mahwende bragging on the Victoria Range housing scheme as an achievement is again an insult to humanity. That housing scheme and farm is and remains a government state land which could not have been given or allocated to individuals lest only under corrupt and elitist arrangement. That housing scheme falls under two councils with interference between Masvingo RDC and Masvingo City Council. A land commission was set up in 2021 which implicated land moguls like the Chiredzi Former Chairman Francis Moyo who is running for Chiredzi Central Constituency MP under Zanu Pf. The Masvingo Land commission enquiry pitted Mahwende and their operations revealed that they fleeced the government and council of a lot of Masvingo under the dubious cooperatives with the report yet to be published to the residents. This is one of the fights that Advocate Mureri Martin pledged to fight and unearth until justice is delivered to all the citizens who were fleeced of their monies by the barons and the Councils which were deprived of their revenues by the individuals now running as our saviours.
Secondly, for Mayor Maboke to claim that the people shall be his pool of decision making is not only an insult to the residents because the bills has sky rocketed under his term of office, he failed to create platforms for feedback meetings with residents as was done by Former Mayor Fidze who interacted with people weekly. Consultations with residents was the norm under the previous council term led by Mayor Fidze but under the leadership of Mayor Maboke, bills are rebated without input of residents, consultative platforms are advertised in the morning of the same day, budget meetings are notified on the day of meeting, all this being an attempt to frog march residents to the altar of political Machiavellianism under the guise of pseudo consultations. Basing a whole campaign under the repeal of ACA shows how devoid a manifesto is only unless the Mayor is detached from the demands of the office he is envying.
With the limited powers, the Mayor of Harare fought against July Moyo during his 5 year term of office as he stood with people pushing agenda of the residents not freebies or personal aggrandisement. He was suspended many a times because he stood with the people, many shall remember Mayor Mafume for defying the government directive to implement Pomona Agreement , a policy imposed by Local government ministry to fleece residents of their money in what became known as Pomona gate scandal. The stadium was nearly sold to Tagwirei and HCC fought against this arrangement until the elite chickened out the arrangement. Now the stadium is commissioned today under the able leadership of the City Mayor.
MURERI MARTIN, THE LAWYER VERSUS THE POLITICIAN
The battle of the Urban city has attracted the attention of many critics and many take Advocate Mureri as the underdog in the race. People mistook him in his practising robes versus his political standing and acumen. The man has fought several legal battles notwithstanding the villification and fights that he jumped over .
Martin Mureri shall be remembered as one legal mind stood with the victims of political violence from Mwenezi, Chiredzi, Bikita, Gutu, Zaka, Chivi and Masvingo even beyond. Many party activists found themselves behind cells and the household name which they raise was Martin Mureri. Some ended up committing petty crimes on the basis of availability of a man with patient heart , some were accused of indecent assaults, some were accused of cooked murder charges, some were abducted, some were accused of cattle rustling , some were accused political nuisance, the man was available when duty called. Many are legal practitioners but with the target by the regime to all human rights defenders who represent opposition members, many shun representation of political victims. During by Elections last year in 2022, Advocate Mafa and Adv Mureri litigated successfully against an illegal prohibition against the Rujeko popular rally which came to determine the fate of Masvingo by elections. Walk in the city of Masvingo, ask me and anyone will tell you of the goodwill of Mureri even those who never met him physically but showering accolades.
When he joined the political terrain, many thought the journey he has embarked on shall be thorny and hard. Lest, the man who is walking in street by street, ward by ward, and shops by shops with the city Councillors mobilising for the support of CCC and all its Candidates indicates towards a land slide victory. He was elected the Masvingo Urban MDCA Secretary General and was later elected the Chairperson of Masvingo Urban district in 2020. When CCC was formed, he was appointed the Constituency Point Person , a post which he holds to date. This indicates the political animal he is.
The campaign based on Winning Zimbabwe for Everyone has not only attracted many people to join the party but believing that 2023 is the only chance of winning Zimbabwe for Change. The door to door activities led by councillors and constituency campaign teams in the Urban Constituency in silence is indicating towards the land slide victory for CCC in Masvingo Urban Constituency. Against all odds, the political battle in the old city of Zimbabwe , Masvingo is but done, with Martin Mureri being the next legislator of the City against the two Mayors of the city waging a fight against the popular lawyer and political animal.
Nyahunda SD is a PhD student, writing in his personal capacity. Can be contacted on twitter @CitizenDesire