. . . six candidates ready for the hot seat
Incumbent Zanu PF legislator for Gutu South Dr Paul Chimedza and Senator Shuvai Mahofa, who hails from the same constituency, are sworn enemies and they do not see eye to eye.
The enmity seems to have begun when Mahofa, tried but in vein, to block Dr Chimedza from contesting Gutu South in 2013 and the two have renewed their rivalry as preparations for party primaries begin ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Mahofa, who is the Minister of State for Provincial Affairs for Masvingo, was humiliated in the first round after her frontrunner Dr Vengai Guni was trounced by the former Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care at 2013 primaries and the female veteran politician is hoping for a counter in the forthcoming party primaries.
Nicknamed Chikoforo (Cultivator), an agricultural equipment used for weeding the fields), Mahofa is surely planning a massive comeback, with a new candidate of course. Though Mahofa is yet to announce the new candidate, it emerged that she religiously discredits Chimedza at every opportunity and she often tells party supporters there that she will soon introduce the candidate people should vote for.
Mahofa is one of the Team Lacoste faction kingpins in Masvingo province and being the minister in charge of the province gives her considerable advantage over Chimedza, a suspected Generation 40 (G40) sympathiser.
Chimedza survived the chop for allegedly being a 'Gamatox' member when former vice president Joice Mujuru and other Zanu PF senior officials were kicked out for allegedly plotting to topple President Robert Mugabe from power in 2014.
The soft spoken MP was suspended from holding any party activity in the constituency for at least two years before he was cleared of any wrongdoing following the realignment of Zanu PF factional politics into Team Lacoste and G40 now that Gamatox was dead.
His suspension is said to have been influenced by Mahofa who still harboured deep resentment against the junior minister who dared challenge her in 2008 and beat her preferred candidate in 2013.
As a result of the suspension, Chimedza was forced to suspend most of the projects he was undertaking among them the electrification three primary schools and a secondary school and construction of a state-of-the-art solar-powered clinic in ward 28 where he comes from.
The bricks and the poles that Chimedza bought for the clinic and school electrification projects respectively are still lying idle in the constituency. Hopefully Chimedza will be able to complete the projects before 2018 general elections.
If the elections will be free and fair, Chimedza will win the party primaries again. However, now that Mahofa is in a more strategic and powerful position in the province, she will fight hard to influence the election outcome, either by hook or crook, to ensure that Chimedza is down and out.
With G40 becoming very unpopular in Masvingo province, Chimedza should really work hard to prove that he is worthy being re-elected.
Zimbabwe National Liberation War Collaborators Association (Ziliwaco) national chairperson Pupurai Togarepi's name has also been thrown into the game, with some political punters touting the deposed Zanu PF youth leader as the one who could pose the biggest threat to Chimedza's survival.
Togarepi is believed to be in the Team Lacoste camp and his star had been fast rising in Zanu PF until after President Mugabe celebrated his 92nd birthday at Great Zimbawe monuments in February last year when G40 managed to pull the rug from under his feet and elevated Kudzai Chipanga in his stead.
Since then, Togarepi went into hibernation for some time as his G40 nemesis used their momentary upper hand in the party to exert pressure on Team Lacoste. His chances in Gutu South, however, cannot be underestimated because his faction seems to be gaining the upper hand in the party now, and the Herald and other State-controlled newspapers have lately been giving him unfettered space as a way of rehabilitating his career.
There are also other less known names that have also been mentioned as having an interest of contesting the Gutu South seat on a Zanu PF ticket including Josphat Sarukore Hungwe who comes from Nemakonde in ward 28. He is also said to enjoy the cover of Mahofa although it is not clear whether she will go as far as endorsing his candidature in the primaries ahead of the likes of Dr Guni.
Sarukore is understood to be a man of little means, a factor that may impede his momentum in the campaign that will likely feature the other candidates who have more resources. He has his own capital, though, in the form of the 'green bombers' with which he works in Patrick Zhuwao's Ministry of Youth.
John Dhauramanzi, a prominent Harare businessman is also said to be eyeing the constituency under the National People's Party (NPP) ticket. Dhauramanzi is said to be well resourced and has been sponsoring most of the NPP activities in Masvingo province including its party's president Joice Mujuru's rallies.
Mujuru visited Gutu South recently where she addressed a rally at Maungwa business centre and it seems like the party has gained a lot of ground in the constituency if the attendance at the recent rally is anything to go by. However, Dhauramanzi is said to have crossed path with NPP national chairperson elect Dzikamai Mavhaire and that might dampen his chances of winning party primaries, if there is to be any.
Those who claim to know Mavhaire very well said the former Zanu PF politburo member is a tactician when it comes to elbowing politics. Having successfully pushed out Claudios Makova and Kudakwashe Bhasikiti from Masvingo who were threats to his interests, Mavhaire might influence another person to contest in Gutu South in 2018 general elections thereby elbowing out Dhauramanzi.
Since NPP has rubbished a possible coalition of opposition parties saying they can only agree to it if Mujuru is the leader, then the interested candidates will not much be affected by the coalition talks among opposition parties currently underway because their leader will never lead the grand coalition - in other words NPP will go it alone because its demands are outrageous.
If things remain as they are then Dhauramanzi will face candidates from Zanu PF and Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai (MDC-T) at 2018 general elections.
The MDC-T is likely to be represented by Harare lawyer Erium Musendekwa, who lost to Chimedza on July 31, 2013. Hopefully, he will convince the electorate that he is worthy representing them in the national assembly. No other candidates have shown interest to contest Musendekwa from MDC-T so far.
The MDC-T's Musendekwa is likely to win 2018 elections as we are likely to witness a 'bhora musango' from Zanu PF if Mahofa imposes candidate, which is most likely to be the case.
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