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Chamisa's MDC Alliance in tricky Gwanda mayoral polls

THE Nelson Chamisa led MDC Alliance yesterday said it was confident of retaining the Gwanda mayoral seat although stakes favoured its rivals, Zanu-PF and MDC-T.

The Gwanda mayoral polls will be held tomorrow following the recent recall of MDC Alliance's Jastone Mazhale by Thokozani Khupe's MDC-T.

MDC Alliance has five councillors in Gwanda after the recall of Mazhale, while Zanu-PF has four.

Ntanto Ndlela, the MDC Alliance Matebeland South provincial spokesperson yesterday said he expected Nelson Chamisa's camp to retain the mayoral seat.

"We are very confident of retaining the mayorship of Gwanda for MDC Alliance because we still have a numerical advantage over Zanu-PF even after the Khupe cabal recalled mayor Jastone Mazhale. We have five councillors while Zanu-PF has only four," he said.

"We have agreed on a candidate as a party that our councillors will vote for, but for strategic reasons, we have decided not to reveal his/ her identity until the right time."

Sources yesterday said MDC Alliance councillors had entered into a pact where they would back a Zanu-PF candidate for the mayor's post, with Chamisa's party taking the deputy mayor's post.

"MDC-T is likely to field ward 5 councillor Gilbert Dube for mayor, keeping ward 6 councillor Ponalo Maphala as deputy mayor (a position he is currently holding). The Chamisa group is also likely to back Zanu-PF ward 3 councillor Knowledge Ndlovu for the mayorship in exchange for Zanu backing them for the deputy mayor in the form of ward 4 councillor Njabulo Siziba," the source said.

Ndlela confirmed that Zanu-PF officials had approached them for a horse-trading deal.

"It's true Zanu-PF has approached some of our councillors and offered them bribes, that is why we are dealing with this whole issue so strategically. All the five councillors remain unmoved under MDC Alliance. But Khupe people keep threatening them with recall."

MDC-T acting spokesperson Khaliphani Phugeni declined to disclose their party candidates.

"We will be meeting with our councillors this week. As for Chamisa's councillors supporting a Zanu-PF candidate, I have no comment. I will leave it to the people of Gwanda.We will cross the bridge when we get there, but of course we hope to win," he said.

A source said the elections were tricky for Chamisa's camp since two of his remaining five councillors were reportedly aligned to Khupe.

"If the MDC factions don't unite, they will split votes and give the mayoral seat to Zanu-PF," an MDC insider said.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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