The by-elections to be held in Mberengwa and Chirumanzu next month will provide a crucial test both on the apathy that has reigned in the country for the past few years as the ruling party increasingly failed to fulfil the promises it had made to the nation.
It will also give an indication on whether opposition political parties, which have failed to take advantage of waining support for the ruling party because they could not provide tangible solutions or alternatives to the current crisis, have gained any ground since the 1990 general elections.
The by-elections to be held on 11 and 12 May could also be a pointer on how the ruling party can manipulate the present food to lure votes only for the same peasants to be abandoned son after the by -elections.
The people of Chipinge are a testimony of this as they are paying for voting for ZANU (Ndonga) and ZUM in 1990.
But since the so-called opposition parties have not offered anything tangible so far, the ruling party is likely to win at the end of the day.
In Mberengwa, for example, the ZANU-PF candidate, Byron Hove, a well-known government critic sidelined in the last general elections is facing unknown Choble Ruzengwe from an equally unknown party called the Zimbabwe Aristocrats.
Hove, if his past performance is taken into account, could be an early winner, but it could also prove his downfall as he failed to change the status quo.
Chirumanzu is likely to provide a more exciting contest as more established parties like ZUM, ZANU (Ndonga) and the Democratic Party are challenging the ZANU-PF candidate Innocent Chikiyi.
Dates for the other two by-elections, Mount Darwin and Makonde West have not yet been set but things will have drastically changed by the time they are held as this will largely depend on the government’s ability to handle the present food crisis.
Things are already bad as it is as some ZANU-PF politicians have now admitted that they are disillusioned by the government’s failure to respond to the food crisis with several Members of Parliament saying they were afraid to visit their constituencies because they will face the wrath of their hungry constituents.
One MP, Richard Mujana, of Mount Darwin, resigned because of the crisis. President Mugabe’s sister, Sabina, said when she visited her home area of Zvimba people who were attending a funeral abandoned it to come and ask her for mealile meal.
“They said, give us even a 5 kg bag we will share it,” she told Parliament this month. “I did not have an answer. The problem is that we started off lying, saying there was a lot of maize coming, and that trucks will soon bring it to them. Now I have run out of ideas.”
Agriculture minister Witness Mangwende was not spared either. Several MPs said he was not competent enough to handle that ministry and should be removed.
“I know that he (Mangwende) did history at university. History is not agriculture,” said Mutare South MP, Lazarus Nzarayebani.