ENVIRONMENT, Climate, Tourism and Hospitality Minister Mangaliso Ndlovu has said he did not contest in Zanu-PF’s primary polls for Bulilima Constituency over the weekend to avoid a brutal political fight with a Deputy Minister for the good of the party.
Had he contested, Cde Ndlovu, who is also Zanu-PF’s Matabeleland South provincial chairperson and Bulilima East legislator, was going to face off with Bulilima West legislator Cde Dingumuzi Phuthi, who is also the Deputy Minister of Information Communication Technology, Courier and Postal Services, in the new reconfigured Bulilima constituency.
Cde Ndlovu’s constituency was collapsed through the delimitation exercise which was done by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) as the province did not have enough registered voters during the time the exercise was done.
Both Cde Ndlovu and Cde Phuthi command huge support in the area and the minister decided to relegate his self-interest and put his party first to avoid a bruising political contest.
There has been speculation over the minister’s decision not to contest under the ruling party ticket in the newly reconfigured constituency.
In an exclusive interview with Chronicle, Cde Ndlovu said although the decision not to contest was not any easy one, he had to take it for the greater good.
The minister dismissed as “misguided” reports that he withdrew from the primary election race at the eleventh hour as he did not even submit his papers to contest the seat
“Sometimes as leaders it is very important to know that it is not about you being in a position, it is about the party delivering. It is about the people loving their party and you making sure that you do what you can to promote that. I took some thorough introspection and I am so happy that I arrived at this decision, it was not an easy one.
It would have resulted in a very brutal fight which I think could not work for the achievement of our goals as a collective,” he said.
“For me the bigger fight is to make sure that the ruling party wins all the constituencies in the province. We need a very strong co-ordinated campaign. We need to have time to articulate the good works that our President has been doing under the Second Republic.
So, I looked at it and I said for me to be able to pull in weight and dedicate my time to the entire province, I should not contest. I do not think I needed to go in and fight with Hon Phuthi whom I believe is more than capable of delivering, because he is someone I grew up with in politics and I believe that he will represent the party very well.”
Cde Ndlovu said his constituency was affected by the delimitation due to the low number of registered voters.
“You would recall that nine constituencies out of 13 in Mat South failed to meet the minimum threshold of registered voters and ZEC identified my constituency Bulilima East as the one to give way and push the numbers for all the remaining eight, and my constituency collapsed as a result.
It meant that the bigger part of what was my constituency then moved to support the survival of the other eight to remain with twelve constituencies.
My withdrawal, I did before submission of the applications in Harare, contrary to some misguided elements that say I withdrew at the 11th hour, whatever that means.
This gives me the opportunity to focus on mobilising the whole province to vote resoundingly for our President, our national assembly and local authority candidates in the upcoming harmonised elections,” he said.
Cde Ndlovu said he did not have any difficulty passing the reins to Cde Phuthi to represent the people of Bulilima as he was going to represent them well in Parliament and win the constituency for the ruling party.
He said he was going to meet the grassroots over the weekend to explain his decision and rally the people to support the new party candidate who will continue with the work to fulfil the President’s vision.
Meanwhile, some members from the constituency have hailed the MP for his work ethic in developing the constituency.
Chief Mphini said the decision by Cde Ndlovu not to contest has not gone well with people in the constituency due to his approach to development matters.
He said the reconfiguration of the constituency was a negative development as the new MP will have more work to do.
“It is a big loss because he was able to separate politics and development and work with everyone. We have a councillor who is not from his party in our area and he did not sideline him, abantu bayakhala kakhulu.
He is a pro-development minded person, just look at the number of clinics, schools and community projects like gardens and youth projects he initiated and those he supported. Cde Phuthi will have a challenge because the constituency is now very big and they will need to find a way of working together somehow,” said Chief Mphini.
Gwambe Clinic Project (South African chapter) chairman Mr Descent Lungwane Moyo said it is a bitter pill to swallow for the project as the legislator was a hands-on person.
“It is hard to accept that he will not be our MP after the elections because his commitment to the development of our area was marvellous. We had lots of challenges in building our clinic and he always motivated us when the going got tough. Beside supplying us with lots of materials and his equipment he would put on a work suit and join us in working.
We will miss him a lot because he was able to bring everyone across the political divide for the good of the community,” said Mr Moyo.
A school head in one of the schools in Bulilima East constituency who did not want to be identified due to ministry protocols said they benefited a lot from the legislator.
The head said although disappointing, it was not shocking that Cde Ndlovu took the decision not to contest as he was a selfless person.
“Generally, he is a great leader and he relates well with the community at large. Vision 2030 is at his heart; he wants to see an upper middle-class.
He is the founder of the secondary school and assisted in building clinics and donating state-of-art science laboratories. He has been instrumental in assisting the Second Republic to cascade quality, inclusive and equitable education, even community empowerment through projects. He is a leader who has national interest at heart,” said the head.