I am standing in the Mazowe West constituency for a seat in the House of Assembly.
Mazowe West is bordered by Mvurwi in the north, Mazowe South in the east, the Great Dyke in the west and Harare in the south. In terms of mineral and agricultural potential, it is one of the wealthiest districts in Zimbabwe. Mazowe Mine, one of the country’s largest gold mines is situated here.
Mazowe West is also part of the “Mazowe Valley”, which was a key attraction for white settlers at the start of the colonial period in the 1890s. It has a rich heritage: it was the home of the legendary Mbuya Nehanda of the First Chimurenga and one of the main sites of the uprisings in 1896 and 1897 that resulted in the deaths of many white settlers. There still exists, along Old Mazowe Road, a monument in memory of the white settlers who were killed in the Mazowe area during the uprisings of 1896.
About 100 000 people reside in Mazowe West, of whom 30 000 are registered voters. Forty-five percent of the voters registered in the period between February 5 this year — the date on which Simba Makoni announced his candidature for the presidential election — and nomination day on February 14, also the day on which the voter registration and inspection process officially ended.
I have lived in Mazowe West since July 1990, when I purchased a farm in the area after I was forced to retire at the age of 42 from Robert Mugabe’s government. I had been part of the first group of African senior civil servants responsible for the establishment and development of Zimbabwe from the first day of independence in 1980.
Panhowe — or farm — is my family home, which we developed virtually from scratch in 1990. In the 18 years since I arrived in Mazowe West, I have been party to the infrastructural and socio-economic development of Mazowe West, particularly the district within which Panhowe is situated. During this period, a primary school was build, roads rehabilitated and the first steps taken towards the construction of a rural clinic. More recently, a dam that can irrigate up to 300ha of land was built, as were a shopping complex, a hotel and conference centre, a golf course and a housing estate.
This is my first time running for election. My decision was prompted, and perhaps also necessitated, by my involvement as one of the conveners of the Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn initiative, which seeks to see Simba Makoni elected president on March 29.
Because I am a member of the national management committee (NMC) of the Mavambo-Kusile-Dawn movement, it has been difficult to devote as much time as I would have liked to my own election campaign in Mazowe West. But I have a very hard-working team of volunteers that is responsible for the day-to-day work that goes with my campaign programme. Also, we have set up committees in each of the 10 wards that constitute Mazowe West, with the head office at Panhowe. Otherwise, the campaign is constrained by limited resources, including a fuel shortage and the dilapidated rural road network.
The main medium of my campaign is in the form of posters and leaflets, promoting myself and Makoni and the message of hope, which I find easy to sell to a population devastated by unemployment and the food and energy crisis that haunts almost every household in Zimbabwe.
The ruling party and the Mugabe government’s failures have translated into a massive rejection of Zanu-PF and an acceptance of the new kid on the block. This appears to have almost immobilised Zanu-PF on the ground, including its machinery of patronage and violence. If this is indeed so, then this election promises to be one of the most peaceful in post-independent Zimbabwe.
Ibbo Mandaza is an independent candidate for the House of Assembly in the constituency of Mazowe West