January 22 2017 – A NEW party founded by Zimbabwe‘s former vice president Joice Mujuru suffered a crushing defeat in its first ever election contest again President Robert Mugabe’s ruling Zanu-PF, showing the task she faces in her bid to challenge her ally-turned-adversary.
“It was the media which thought Mai Mujuru had something to offer,” says Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe, spokesperson Pishayi Mucharuaya.
Zanu-PF retained the rural Bikita West parliamentary constituency in Saturday’s by-election after its candidate polled 13 156 votes against 2 453 votes for Mujuru’s Zimbabwe People First, says the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (today) Sunday.
Mujuru, Mugabe’s deputy for 10 years, was seen as the most likely successor until she was expelled from the ruling party in 2014 after charges she was plotting against Africa’s oldest leader. Mujuru denies the charges.
The drubbing by Zanu-PF left many of Mujuru’s supporters in shock, with one SA based Zimbabwe People First supporter telling ZimsInSA.com that the defeat came as no surprise.
“There were poor campaigning strategied, no substantive structures and to make it worse there were no eternal elections. In fact the party is being run like a personal spaza shop,” charged the SA based Zim People First member.
Last year Mujuru formed her own political party to challenge Mugabe, raising hopes that seem to be already shattered, that a politician who had liberation war credentials and enjoyed the support of some military generals could successfully challenge Mugabe.
The poor showing in Bikita West, which was marked by high voter turnout, comes at a time Mujuru is negotiating with the MDC- T on a coalition pact to take on Mugabe in next year’s election.
The MDC-T did not contest Saturday’s vote in keeping with its decision to boycott all elections because it argues the election environment favours the ruling party. In 2013 the same party argued that the elections had been rigged.
Zanu PF has 221 out of 270 seats in the lower house.
Mujuru could not be reached for comment on Sunday and her spokesman Jealousy Mawarire said he could not immediately comment. – Reuters additional reporting Zimsinsa.com