The countdown to the forthcoming by-elections for the vacant Kwekwe Central constituency has birthed vicious intraparty fights in both the ruling Zanu PF and the Nelson Chamisa-led opposition MDC Alliance amid amplified bickering amongst officials from the two parties.

The seat fell vacant following the passing on of National Patriotic Front (NPF) lawmaker Masango ‘Blackman’ Matambanadzo last month.

the late Masango Matambanadzo

And 30 days have hardly passed since Blackman, a former Zanu PF MP breathed his last, but the two biggest political parties on the land are deeply divided over the political personalities who will represent them in the by-elections whose dates are yet to be announced by the electoral governing ZEC.

In the MDC Alliance, well placed sources privy to the prevailing bickering and finger-waging rocking the opposition told Zwnews that former MP Blessing Chebundo who lost to Matambamadzo on two different occasions, has embarked on a smear campaign denigrating surprise aspirant Judith Tobaiwa, daughter to current Kwekwe deputy mayor, Shadreck Tobaiwa.

“It is no longer business as usual in the party- the Chebundo camp has been working on a ploy to stop Judy (Tobaiwa) from positioning herself ahead of the by-elections,” a high ranking opposition official from the party’s Midlands Province told this publication.

“He (Chebundo) has been moving around, grabbing each and every opportunity that he gets to discredit the young lady. In actual fact, a faction which is loyal to Tobaiwa contends that the former MP has fallen out favour with the electorate after he lost to the late Blackman in two consecutive polls,” said the source who preferred anonimity for fear of reprisal.

When contacted for comment, Tobaiwa could neither deny nor confirm the alleged differences with former MP Chebundo.

“I do not comment on rumours and I am actually surprised how someone will move around denigrating my person. Is it not wise that those who want to be voted into political office campaign for themselves than denigrating others?” she rhetorically questioned.

In apparent confirmation to her immediate political interests, Tobaiwa told our reporter that she was awaiting confirmation from the MDC-A to give guide on how the party will conduct the selection of its candidates for the Kwekwe Central by-elections.

President Mnangagwa Credit: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

Chebundo, who rose to political prominence after out-balloting then Zanu PF candidate and incumbent Zimbabwe leader Emmerson Mnangagwa in the 2000 elections as an underdog, told our reporter that the Kwekwe community is ‘still mourning Blackman’ adding that there were other issues to concentrate on than ‘fighting’ political competitors.

“We are still mourning former MP Matambanadzo like I told you last week,” said Chebundo in reference to an interview he had with this reporter a couple of days ago.

“I think as a journalist you also expect to come across such kinds of stories where people discuss issues and concentrate on perceptions instead of what is really on the ground. Apart from the fact that we are still mourning the late MP, who was a colleague, there are still a number of pertinent issues to deal with, like the issue of (Mnangagwa’s) legitimacy,” said the former Kwekwe parliamentarian.

Chebundo also added that electoral contestation, a characteristic of a health democracy, should not be confused with ‘infighting’.

“Contestation is actually good for any democracy and you can not call it intra-party fighting. Actually, we are yet to hold a single meeting as a province to discuss about the by-elections you are talking of and apart from the Covid19 scourge, we have other important matters to concentrate on. It is not necessarily about Kwekwe, it is about Zimbabwe,” said Chebundo.

Fadzayi Mahere

MDC-A spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere was not picking up calls from Zwnews during the time of publishing.

Just across town, pre-election divisions are also hitting Zanu PF hard after a group opposed to the 2018 candidate Kandros Mugabe has reportedly coalesced to force the imposition of its preferred candidate, a one Energy popularly known as ‘Dhala’ in local circles.

Sources told this reporter that Dhala, a nephew to State Security minister Owen ‘Mudha’ Ncube, is the preferred candidate for party stalwart July Moyo and former Mbizo legislator, Vongaishe Mupereri a known rival of Mugabe.

Minister Owen Ncube

On the other hand, Mugabe who is also a prominent miner and leader of the Zvipo ZveMweya Church, is allegedly being backed by several provincial party leaders who are opposed to a faction purpotedly under the handling of Local Government Minister Moyo.

“Dhala is the biological son of Minister Ncube’s sister and he is being backed by a faction handled by Moyo. What is quite puzzling is that all along, Mugabe has been on a drive making donations to members of the community and he was even expected to represent the party in the 2023 elections,” a Zanu PF source said.

July Moyo

“But, the dillemma which the Moyo camp is facing is that most provincial party officials are secretly siding with Mugabe as they emphathise with him for having invested much in the good of the party. Some of the officials who, in the day, fight him (Mugabe) are regularly seen at the cleric’s place receiving financial handouts from the same person they denigrate,” added the source.

Zanu PF Political Commissar Victor Matemadanda refused to entertain questions from this reporter, saying there were ‘better’ stories to write about.

“I cannot respond to the information that you are getting from your sources. Don’t you have better stories to concentrate on, young man,” said Matemadanda before abruptly cutting off the telephone conversation.