Former Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Kudakwashe Bhasikiti (KB) has withdrawn from the Mwenezi East parliamentary by-election citing an uneven electoral playing field.
the big interview BY OBEY MANAYITI
The ex-Zanu PF MP, now a leading figure in the opposition Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) said he made the decision after a clash with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) chairperson Justice Rita Makarau on Tuesday.
Our reporter Obey Manayiti (OM) spoke to Bhasikiti about his decision to abandon the campaign and his political future. Below are excerpts from the inverview.
OM: Why did you withdraw your candidature from the Mwenezi East by-election?
KB: The formal decision to withdraw from the by-election led by ZEC was made on Tuesday when we held a meeting with ZEC and other political parties.
We agreed that ZEC is failing to manage the elections and to represent political parties as an independent electoral body, hence a resolution that the parties want to see ZEC disbanded because it is failing to live to its mandate of making the electoral ground free and fair to every participant, but is working in Zanu PF’s corner.
The evidence was abundant of how ZEC displays that partisan approach. It is part of Zanu PF and I have corroborative evidence that in Mwenezi there is a lot of vote-buying, threatening the electorate and traditional leaders because they know I am Chief Murove’s son.
The other four chiefs were all in support of me because I have worked with them before. ZEC was supposed to disqualify Zanu PF because we signed a code of conduct, which does not support all they are doing.
Because we saw that ZEC is not interested in free play, we as Nera [National Election Reform Agenda] we said let’s disengage.
OM: There are allegations that you chickened out because the way you handled the Chingwizi issue has come back to haunt you. What is your comment?
KB: You see, allegations will always be there on anything that people do, but full facts will always be there.
People in Chingwizi have great respect for the work I did for them.
After they were displaced because of flooding of the Tokwe Mukosi Dam, these people were taken to Mwenezi where there is a planned settlement pattern. They were supposed to be connected with piped water on their prime land, but when I left those who came to replace me withheld the money.
When I left, [Shuvai] Mahofa instead harassed the people and wanted to remove them from their prime land because she wanted to give the land to Billy Rautenbach.
I went to Parliament and contested that. In fact, in Chingwizi I have the greatest support, contrary to what people are saying. I wanted to go to court and fight so that they would get their full compensation.
OM: From your assessment, do you think you had a chance to win against Zanu PF?
KB: I had full support of the traditional leaders there. The people loved me as well, why, because I worked with them well. They also don’t want that imposed candidate.
He was imposed even after Ezra Chadzamira won the internal elections, but results were nullified by G40. Church leaders were on my side as well as they are against the Zanu PF candidate.
OM: Do you think ZEC will reform to your desired standards?
KB: We have to force ZEC to reform and this is what we are going to do. At the moment we have made a resolution as opposition parties to have a tripartite electoral management body involving Sadc, African Union and United Nations to take over the full functions of ZEC as defined in the Constitution of Zimbabwe.
This body will oversee the preparation of [biometric voter registration] BVR and complete demilitarisation of the entire electoral system.
It will also facilitate the amendments of the Electoral Act and all other Acts that have a bearing on elections to ensure that 2018 elections are run under the best practices worldwide.
We agreed that Makarau cannot create a platform for free and fair elections because electoral laws are breached in her full view.
If you hear Zanu PF saying they will win elections and continue doing the wrong things and still ZEC remains silent, it means that it is pointless to participate in those elections.
I know people will be killed and don’t want that. This is why I am saying I saved lives by withdrawing.
If you check, Makarau is also looking for a job as the chief justice and so she is trying to do everything to please those who appoint. We need elections to be run by a retired judge.
OM: What is your take on the coalition? What will be your role in that alliance?
KB: The coalition will work, but people seem to have a misunderstanding of what the coalition means and how it will be structured. As ZimPF, we believe we have to agree to choose one presidential candidate and all other parties will support that person.
In each constituency and ward, we will field one candidate and other parties will support that candidate. If we do this Zanu PF will lose.
OM: So where is the misunderstanding?
KB: The misunderstanding is that people think political parties will have to disband and form one party. This is what we have to work on now so that we iron out those potential challenges.
OM: Let’s talk about ZimPF. Are you interested in taking over the presidency of your party?
KB: We have said those who are interested in leading the party as president should forward their names and then due process will be done to select the leader.
The results will be announced when a candidate from those who have expressed interest is chosen.
OM: How many have expressed interest so far?
KB: Quite a number. I can say more than five and I am not one of them. This is not my ambition. Their names will be revealed at an appropriate time.
OM: There are allegations that those who left Zanu PF are struggling financially; were you benefitting from the system?
KB: I don’t know those who are struggling because they left Zanu PF. Personally, I was a businessman before being an MP or becoming a senior member of Zanu PF. You will also remember that I used to sponsor sports in Masvingo, all the districts were playing for my trophy.
I bought a stand and built a house in Borrowdale before Zanu PF. I also built a house in my rural area which has now been transformed into a clinic.
I am not part of those who will struggle and I will not struggle. In fact, this will increase my business acumen. I am a successful farmer and the record is there for everyone to see at Tongaat Hullet on what I supply them with.
I don’t believe in what Jonathan Moyo said that “it’s cold outside Zanu PF”. It is cold to people who steal.
OM: Will you be able to work with Joice Mujuru if she joins the same coalition with you?
KB: We have already indicated our position. We are prepared to work with anyone in the opposition and Mujuru now represents her own party and in politics there are no permanent enemies.
Mujuru is not our enemy and she is just a partner, just like Zunde or MDC-T.