By Gerald Takwara and Shami Makombe
FORMER Epworth legislator Zalerah Hazvineyi Makari (nee Tendayi) of Zanu PF has received backing from exiled former Cabinet Minister Professor Jonathan Moyo who says she can do a sterling job as an MP.
The Epworth seat was under MDC Alliance MP Earthrage Kureva who was recalled by the MDC-T led by Thokozani Khupe in 2020.
Makari, a niece to the late former President Robert Mugabe and a devoted Catholic, first won the Epworth seat in September 2015 when she polled over 10 500 votes against her rivals who included independent candidate Daniel Foyer.
The MDC then led by Morgan Tsvangirai refused to partake in the by-elections which arose after Tendai Biti, Elton Mangoma and others broke away with several MPs and party assets.
In the 2018 elections, Makari lost the Zanu PF primary elections to party rival Kudakwashe Damson. She claimed vote rigging and victimization in the party’s primary elections.
At the time, Makari accused her party rival and Zanu PF Epworth youth leader Kudakwashe Damson of peddling lies to tarnish her image. She proceeded to contest the elections as an independent candidate after Zanu PF declined to entertain her complaint.
This was after Damson’s team allegedly convinced the then Zanu PF commissar Retired General Engelbert Rugeje that she was a G40 acolyte and a close confidante of exiled former Minister Saviour Kasukuwere.
Zanu PF structures in Epworth bought into the allegations and youths bayed for Makari’s blood, at one time forcing her to flee for her life. This was after a group of party youths stoned her during a party meeting with the Epworth Local Board.
There were eleven candidates vying for the Epworth seat in 2018 and Makari came out third best with 10 745 votes. Damson polled 16 149 votes and was second to winner Earthrage Kureva of the MDC Alliance who managed 26 082 votes.
Just under four years later, Makari is back in the ring for Zanu PF and defeated her opponents including Damson in Friday’s primary elections in Zanu PF. Her return came after the ruling party announced an open door policy for estranged cadres wishing to return.
The primary voting in Epworth drew a huge crowd and even though Makari, she now faces a daunting task against the youthful Kureva, who HourlyHits is reliably informed is standing in for the MDC Alliance.
Political analyst and former Cabinet Minister Jonathan Moyo has described Makari as a capable young politician whose return to the seat is “more than notable”.
Said Moyo reacting to Makari’s victory in the Zanu PF primary: “The return of Zalera Makari as a candidate in Epworth is more than notable; she’s good people and she previously did a sterling job as MP for the area!”
The return of Makari also appeared to have excited Epworth residents as a huge crowd was seen on Friday at the party’s district offices partaking in the primary election.
After being confirmed as the party’s candidate for the March 26 by-elections, Makari promised to present a united Zanu PF team against the opposition.
She said “needless” infighting contributed to MDC Alliance victory in the 2018 elections as her votes and those of Damson were totalling more than the eventual winner Earthrage Kureva of the opposition.
Makari also promised to address the issue of land barons who have milked Epworth residents of millions of dollars selling State land to home seekers.
Curiously, Damson is one of the alleged land barons who sell residential stands in the area.