By Buhle Tshavango
Comrade Joosbi Omar is now Member of Parliament for Mwenezi East awaiting swearing in after winning resoundingly in a by-election held during the weekend.
64-year-old Cde. Omar garnered 18 700 votes whilst Welcome Masuku of the NCA and Turner Mhango of Free Zim Congress managed a paltry 482 and 386 votes respectively behind Cde. Omar by a far margin.
Rejected votes amounted to 652 bringing the total voters to 20 220 (41.9 turnout).
True to his word, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti who was the primary rival to the winning candidate bailed out of the election allowing Omar a sweeping victory.
The Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) who were observing the election noted that most of the voters ranged from middle-aged to elderly people while the youths seemed to have shunned the process.
“ZESN observed long queues in the morning with the majority of voters being middle-aged to elderly women…
“The low participation of youths in this by-election is a worrying trend that has persisted since the 2013 harmonized elections”, said ZESN
ZESN announced yesterday that the total number of registered voters in Mwenezi East of 48,258 voters exceeded the +/- 20% threshold as provided in Section 161(6) (f) of the Constitution. This trend is not peculiar to Mwenezi East, having been observed in previous by-elections and the upward changes in demographics give impetus to the argument that a fresh delimitation of constituency boundaries must be done before the 2018 elections.
A significant number of voters where turned away for turning up at the wrong polling stations and having improper identification. Some of the voters who turned up at the wrong polling stations were redirected to other polling stations which at times were a considerable distance apart.
Joosbi Omar himself was turned away from two polling stations at Chatagwi Primary School and Vilivilli Primary School, before he finally voted at Muzhanjire Primary School.
The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission continues to use two voters rolls, the new polling station-based voters’ roll and a supplementary roll based on the 2013 register. This trend has been noted in previous by – elections. The main voters’ roll is made up of voters captured during the registration process and is used together with a supplementary roll based on the ward based voters’ roll used in the 2013 harmonized election.
ZESN argues that the use of one voters’ roll in future elections greatly enhances transparency and integrity of the electoral process.
32 static and mobile observers were dispatched to monitor the electoral process by ZESN, The Electoral Resource center together with the Zimbabwe Human Rights Association (ZimRights) andHeal Zimbabwe Trust (HZT) observers included 92 trained human rights monitors and a mobile team of observers deployed by the three organizations in the constituency.
Critics have described this election as a solo race as ZANU PF basically had no competition, opposition parties have been castigated for not utilizing these opportunities to measure their strengths.
There is growing concern on whether such election scenarios would not duplicate in other constituencies as the main opposition party in the country MDC is on record saying they will only contest when electoral reforms have been made.
Meanwhile the ‘lone’ runner continues to cheer and announce victory.
Omar has finally managed to enter the August house after failing a number of times to secure a seat in other constituencies like Masvingo.
Interestingly to note is that dropout candidate Bhasikiti in the last elections in 2013 managed to win with almost the same numbers in the same area, which have made Omar the newest MP in Parliament.