Jostling for constituencies has already begun in Masvingo province with the most interesting battle being in Masvingo Urban where more than five prominent and well-resourced candidates are said to be vying for the seat come the 2018 general elections.
The incumbent Zanu PF Mavingo Urban legislator Daniel Shumba should be losing sleep these days as he is under fire from members of a rival faction, Team Lacoste, which is already agitating for his ouster from the party and subsequently recall from Parliament. Team Lacoste, which pushes for Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa to replace the 93 year-old President Robert Mugabe, is understood to be supporting Goddart Dunira to replace Shumba.
Though they may not succeed to remove Shumba before 2018 and replace him through a by-election, the incumbent legislator might kiss goodbye to the Masvingo Urban seat at party primaries which are expected to be held either later this year or early next year.
Dunira, who is the chairperson of Vashandi Housing Scheme which built over 3 000 houses for its members at Victoria Ranch, is posing a serious threat to Shumba and might spring a surprise at party primaries.
The Chivi Rural District Council (RDC) Ward 30 councillor is riding high on factional fights currently going on in Zanu PF Masvingo province and that might be an advantage on his side against Shumba who is under fire for allegedly being a Generation 40 (G40) loyalist.
Dunira, being brother to Physchomotor Minister Josaya Dunira Hungwe, seems to be fighting in the same corner with the Masvingo provincial godfather who is believed to be loyal to Team Lacoste faction.
Fighting a strong faction like Team Lacoste in Masvingo might spell doom for Shumba who is said to be a G40 loyalist. Most of the G40 faction members who were in the provincial executive have been suspended few weeks ago and that leaves Shumba with few colleagues to turn to in times of trouble.
Shumba's biggest undoing is that he appears to have created more enemies than friends since he was elected to the National Assembly on July 31, 2013. Since being appointed politburo member, Shumba looked like he had crossed paths with many comrades among them Senator Clemence Makwarimba, Masvingo Central legislator Edmund Mhere and many others over issues to do with seniority.
While Shumba has the best brains among the MPs in the province and is a strategist, this might not be of any help as the more powerful Team Lacoste faction is already baying for his blood. Chances of Shumba winning the party primaries are really slim and Dunira might have the last laugh if no other strong candidate emerges.
Dunira might easily sail through the primaries but will face stiff competition from the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) which is likely to field Harare-based businessman Takanayi Mureyi.
Though Mureyi has to first face Boniface Mazarire in the primaries, chances are very high that he will win the ticket to represent MDC-T in the 2018 general elections with much easy. Former MDC-T Masvingo Urban legislator Tongai Matutu is also said to be eyeing a comeback, and if that is true, it would make the MDC-T primaries even more interesting.
Reliable sources, however, suggest that Matutu is planning to contest for the position of councillor in Harare and if he wins, then he would contest for the mayoral position. This sounds true and more real therefore, Mureyi is likely to be the MDC-T candidate for Masvingo Urban in 2018.
Interestingly, Mureyi and Dunira have somewhat similar circumstances – they both have more experience with the rural electorate and probably very little knowledge about the urban electorate. Mureyi contested and lost the Masvingo West seat to Zanu PF's Ezra Chadzamira on July 31, 2013 elections while Dunira was elected councillor for Chivi RDC ward 30.
This background might appear as not that important but already the duo's approach to urban politics needs to be refined. They should both work on strategies and most importantly, how to address urban electorate otherwise their conduct might affect them even at primary elections.
Prominent lawyer Rodney Makausi of Makausi Saratoga Legal Practitioners is also said to be eyeing Masvingo Urban seat under the National People's Party (NPP) ticket. Makausi is smarter than Dunira and Mureyi in terms of strategy and approach. However, his main challenge is the current on-going grand coalition talks between his party, the MDC-T and other opposition political parties as it is not clear at the moment what criteria the parties would use to field candidates in the 2018 general elections. MDC-T is already pushing to field candidates in all the constituencies it won in 2008, and if it succeeds, that means Masvingo Urban would go to Tsvangirai's party.
But that cannot completely push Makausi out of picture as he has another option to contest for the local authority seat for Ward nine (Rhodene) and, if he wins, he can use his financial muscle to contest for the Mayoral position for Masvingo City. Either way, Makausi stands a better chance. Since age is on his side, Makausi might be a big name come 2023 general elections. His circumstances are almost similar to the current mayor Hubert Fidze of MDC-T who is being pushed to try his lucky and contest for Masvingo Urban seat. Fidze has been on record both in private and public gatherings that he was not ready for a Parliamentary seat. One only hopes that Fidze remains content with his current position and battle to be re-elected City Mayor because the Parliamentary seat might be too hot for him.
However, all the candidates that have emerged so far are well resourced and that would be interesting to see who will win at the end of the day. The electorate should however, choose the candidate based on merit if we are to develop as a nation.
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