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*• Both the leaders of Zanu PF and Citizens Coalition for Change are hard at work trying to woo voters.*
*• One Zanu PF supporter died and 25 others were injured when a bus ferrying them to a presidential rally veered off the road and landed on its side.*
*• The CCC’s Nelson Chamisa says if elections go ahead with his candidates banned and the independent presidential candidate disqualified, it won’t be a credible vote.*
When tankers rolled into Harare, Zimbabwe, during the November 2017 coup that dislodged then president Robert Mugabe, one of the casualties was his deputy Phelekezela Mphoko, a former ambassador to South Africa.
Mphoko and President Emmerson Mnangagwa were Mugabe’s deputies as per the 1987 Unity Accord between PF Zapu and Zanu PF.
An unwritten rule was that Zapu’s deputy was junior to the Zanu one.
Then came a tricky period, a tussle between Generation 40 (G40), which Mphoko was housed in with the likes of Saviour Kasukuwere and Professor Jonathan Moyo, the leading lights of the faction.
G40 had Mugabe and his close family’s attention ahead of the Lacoste faction, led by Mnangagwa.
It was then that Mphoko, a relatively silent deputy, declared that he was on the same level as Mnangagwa.
After Mugabe fired Mnangagwa a few weeks before the coup, Mphoko bemoaned that he was “lonely” and needed an assistant.
After the coup, things changed. Mphoko led a private life, fighting personal business battles as his political career reached an unexpected end.
On Sunday, however, he appeared with his traditional cowboy hat at a Zanu PF rally in Nkayi, his home area.
He was there in support of Mnangagwa.
Zanu PF’s national commissar, Mike Bimha, said Mphoko was “a special guest.”
Mnangagwa gifted Mphoko an off-road vehicle and other undisclosed benefits.
Without a doubt, Mnangagwa has Mphoko’s vote.
As per Zanu PF tradition, senior party leaders took to the podium one after the other before Mnangagwa addressed the crowd.
Hundreds of buses and trucks transported party supporters in but the large number of people didn’t arrive without casualties along the way.
A bus ferrying supporters to the venue overturned, claiming the life of one person and injuring 25 others. It had veered off the road before landing on its left side.
While news of the accident trickled in, it didn’t stop the rally. Rallygoers were treated to breakfast, lunch, and a late meal along with a fizzy drink.
Matabeleland North is one of the country’s most underdeveloped areas.
At the rally, the Minister of Lands, Agriculture, and Rural Resettlement, Dr Anxious Masuka, declared that the government would give villagers 5 000 chickens, 500 tonnes of lime, and 130 tonnes of fertiliser
For those in Nkayi, the host growth point, he said each household would receive 10 chickens, while village heads would get three goats each, provided that Zanu PF had a resounding victory.
*Citizens Coalition for Change*
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa was at Rudhaka Stadium in Marondera, more than 800 km away from Mnangagwa, on Sunday.
It has not been an easy campaign season for the underfunded Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), but still, the party drew huge crowds that mostly made their way to the rally without free transport.
In a direct message to Mnangagwa over the barring of CCC candidates in Bulawayo and a series of other lawfare moves, Chamisa said at the end that “God has the final say”.
“You can be the ruler, but you cannot be the leader; you can’t do what you want. This country belongs to God,” he said.
He added that if the elections went ahead with his candidates banned and independent presidential candidate Kasukuwere disqualified, it wouldn’t be a credible vote.
It is a coup on the ballot.
According to the CCC, Chamisa has been covering every part of the country by road despite some of his rallies being banned in some instances.
The party said the reception had been good under tough circumstances.
“Our president, Nelson Chamisa, has so far travelled over 6 000 km by road, visiting citizens in every village, ward, and constituency in the countryside,” the party said.
The general elections will be on 23 August, and this week the courts are expected to finalise all challenges brought before them so that ballot paper printing and other logistics go ahead.
The European Union’s (EU) election observer mission has been deployed countrywide to assess the campaign season.
Its leader, Fabio Massimo Castaldo, told journalists that the team would only issue statements after the polls.
“We will not correct possible shortcomings, endorse the results, or make any other statement about the quality of the process until the respective stages are completed,” he said.
“Our mandate is to assess all aspects of the electoral process and to analyse the extent to which these elections comply with international and regional standards for elections, as well as with Zimbabwean law,” he added. _*NewZimbabwe*_