Explainer: Matabeleland’s Battle Between Zanu PF and Opposition Parties

Political analysts say that in fluid politics there is nothing called a safe seat. Image by Al Jazeera

BY MUSA MAKINA | @The_CBNews | This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. | MAY 6, 2022

With the 2023 elections months away, Zanu PF is pulling out all the stops, openly declaring that the party is going for the kill to seize all constituencies under the opposition.

BINGA (The Citizen Bulletin) — Gibson Siyanchali, a villager at Binga’s Siansundu area is still trying to find answers on how the ruling Zanu PF party has gained ground against the opposition in the province.

He says in the past, years of neglect by the governing party were enough to ensure a resounding victory for the opposition.

“It’s obvious that the majority of us are suffering, there are no jobs, there is no development but despite all that, I am surprised that the party seems to be getting more votes,” Siyanchali fumed.

Statistics from the March 26 by-elections show that the opposition had its vote count almost halved compared to those recorded in the 2018 polls.

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC’s) Prince Dubeko-Sibanda won Binga North with 10 130 votes, defeating Kudakwashe Mavula Munsaka of Zanu PF who got 7971.

In 2018, Sibanda got 18 428 votes against Zanu PF's 7 751.

A closer analysis shows that Zanu PF has maintained its traditional voters, while Dubeko Sibanda’s vote count dropped with almost 7000 voters, despite victory.

Activist Descent Bajila admits that the opposition has been slowly losing ground in rural Matabeleland to the ruling party.

“Zanu PF continues to grow in rural Matabeleland because of various reasons including the divided votes of the opposition. In a province such as Matabeleland North, they control 39% of the total votes but 62% of the seats. This is a great misnomer.”
Descent Bajila, an activist

Zanu PF currently holds 20 of the 24 seats in rural Matabeleland constituencies. In total, the party is in control of 21 out of 38 constituencies in the whole of Matabeleland, Bulawayo included.

Analysts say that Zanu PF has maintained its traditional voters. Image by Al Jazeera

A closer look at the voting trends shows that in 2000, the MDC, in its first election after launch in 1999, won 21 out of the 23 Matabeleland constituencies.

In Matabeleland North, the MDC won 73.6% of the vote in the same year.

In 2018, the MDC Alliance won 37.8% of the total votes in Matabeleland.

Combined with votes from the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe, the opposition total vote count was 47.3%, more than Zanu PF’s total share of the vote, 39.5%.

However, Zanu PF won most seats in the province in 2018.

Political analyst (Nust) Methuseli Moyo says Zanu PF could be reaping fruits from its targeted rural infrastructural development programmes in Matabeleland.

“The Zanu PF government has gone on a focused and sustained development programme for Matabeleland, specifically targeting the more than 110-year-old dream to bring Zambezi water to Bulawayo and the rest of the region.”
Methuseli Moyo

He adds: “Mnangagwa, unlike the late President Robert Mugabe, has liberated the debate on Gukurahundi and made promises and intentions to resolve the issue. That alone, despite scepticism, has worked for Zanu PF politically.”

ALSO READ: Rustlers Leave Communal Goat Farmers Counting Losses

Bulawayo commentator, Anglistone Sibanda says the opposition has failed to address problems affecting the rural populace.

“As long as the opposition is mum on the land reform and it's not giving the rural people practical solutions to their needs and is perceived as neo colonial. It will be difficult to penetrate the rural communities with neo colonial policies,” says Sibanda.

But analyst Effie Ncube argues otherwise saying no party can claim to have a safe seat in the region.

“In fluid politics like our own there is nothing called a safe seat. In varying degrees of likelihood and probability, seats can move amongst opposition parties, from the opposition party to the ruling party, and from the ruling party to the opposition,” he says.

Do you have a hyperlocal story to share?

WhatsApp us on: +263 71 863 6459.  Email us on: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Since You’re Here, We’ve a Small Request…

Our hard-hitting hyperlocal reporting and analysis reaches one in every three people across the greater region of Matabeleland, southwestern Zimbabwe. That means our content reaches approximately 60,000 readers each week. However, in order for our well-rounded journalism to reach more people who need it to make informed decisions about their lives and their communities, we need to build a strong audience of followers that would receive our rigorous reporting in just one place. Because of exorbitant internet data costs, we know most of our readers use messaging apps such as WhatsApp to get all our content in one place. But the platform, predominantly used by our readers, is not primarily designed for content distribution and reader engagement. That is why we’re building a WhatsApp Bot to navigate this challenge. But in order for this strategy to work effectively to serve our needs, we want all our casual readers like you to be part of our growing WhatsApp Community. To be part of this community of registered users, WhatsApp the word "JOIN" to +263 71 863 6459. We look forward to engaging and building a lasting relationship with you. Thank you.

Binga, Matabeleland, Elections, Local government

  • Last updated on .