Mabvuku-Tafara contest: a subplot of 2023 general elections

Tichaona Zindoga
As the Zimbabwe votes today, there is probably one contest that is being closely watched by stakeholders, apart from the main presidential and parliamentary polls featuring incumbent President Mnangagwa, main challenger Nelson Chamisa and their respective parties, Zanu-PF and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

In the Mabvuku-Tafara constituency, located some 20km east of Harare, the race between Scott Pedzisai Sakupawanya of Zanu-PF and CCC’s Munyaradzi Kufahakutizwe has become the subplot of this election.

Sakupwanya is a flamboyant young businessman who is seeking money and fame to win this constituency in what could be a test of how the ruling party – which has constantly lost to the opposition in urban areas – could use new approaches to woo the electorate.

Sakupwanya, who has made a fortune in gold mining and processing and is considered Zimbabwe’s biggest gold buyer, has used a vast personal and Government war chest to mount a campaign that has seen the rehabilitation of roads and sinking of community boreholes.

The new boreholes are the new source of water – and also visibility of the work done by Sakupwanya.
In July, he brought boxing star Floyd Mayweather to Mabvuku – the place that he grew up in – to inspire youth to take up sport as a business and escape from drugs. The event cast the world spotlight on this poor suburb, riven by poverty, disease, decay of infrastructure and a dreary life from which young people are using drugs to escape.

Just like in many other places in cities and township across the country.

Sakupwanya hopes that his rags-to-riches tale could inspire young people, and that older people who rely on charity can look up to him.

In the last election, in 2018, he won a council seat in the area; and now hopes for a bigger responsibility.
His main rival, Kufahakutizwe, equally comes from the council background, having served as councillor for the past three terms.

In an exclusive interview, he told Review & Mail that he is not fazed by his rival’s fame or vast economic resources.

“It’s about the people,” Kufahakutizwe said. “I have human resources (voters).”

He explained that the contest between him Sakupwanya could be seen through the prism of political parties they represent, and is confident that the lack of popularity of the ruling party in constituencies such as this could work in his favour.

“People in Mabvuku, in Harare and in Zimbabwe are fed up with this system,” Kufahakutizwi said.

“It is about the regime, it’s about the system of Zanu-PF and we are fed up. People are no longer interested, they no longer accept any form of Zanu-PF messages. The thugs that are around Zanu PF are in it to benefit from hand-outs for themselves.”

He accused Sakupwanya of not having “uttered a word” during his tenure as councillor, and said he would prevent him from becoming a benchwarmer in Parliament.

The alderman has a host of ideas that include revamping infrastructure in the area, pushing for the construction of Kunzvi Dam to provide water in eastern Harare and deriving value from mineral resources like lithium found in nearby Goromonzi district.

“We believe in a country where we only create our own industry,” Kufahakutizwi explained.

“One good example is that we have lithium in Acturus. We must create value, by creating a lithium plant so that our own youth can benefit from getting employment. If we go to South Africa, the lithium batteries are cheaper but here we have the resources but we cannot afford to buy a lithium battery.

“So we believe as a government we have a responsibility to construct a lithium plant for value addition. This mining, extraction and exportation of whole raw materials is not acceptable.

“We need that as we usher in a new government with Advocate Nelson Chamisa, we will create employment through industrialisation. We need an industrialisation revolution because we are going to create the diamond firms, lithium plants and you can mention a lot of things,” the aspiring legislator said.

In this part of the country, there are all ingredients of a tightly contested poll, mirroring the national elections which is likely to return close and likely disputed outcomes.

This could be a source of violence.

In Mabvuku-Tafara the opposition says it will prevent rigging, vote-buying or other chicanery.
Kufahakutizwi said “generally people are ready to defend their vote”.

He boldly stated: “In Shona we say hapana kusiri kufa. People have already died. We are suffering and we have suffered enough therefore we need to protect our vote.”
*The Board, Management and Staff of Review & Mail urge our readers and citizens to vote in peace and maintain peace after elections.

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