Norton’s newly-elected Member of Parliament Temba Mliswa has praised the Movement for Democratic Change led by Morgan Tsvangirai for giving him a helping hand in winning the seat against Zanu PF’s Ronald Chindedza.
He told his supporters, however, that he won’t endorse Zimbabwe People First (ZimPF) leader Joice Mujuru as presidential candidate for any coalition that would be formed ahead of the 2018 general elections.
Mliswa was expelled from President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF party last year for allegedly teaming with Mrs. Mujuru, then Zimbabwe’s vice president, for attempting to unseat the 92 year-old Zimbabwean leader.
Mliswa said he had no issues with Tsvangirai being the coalition’s presidential candidate, a position he will back saying the former trade unionist is a “tried and tested brand”.
Mliswa, who is still on cloud nine after snatching Norton constituency from Zanu PF, noted that he has no respect for Mrs. Mujuru, challenging her to show if she has the people like Tsvangirai.
“Mai (Mrs) Mujuru cannot lead the coalition simply because she has no following like Tsvangirai and myself but more importantly … she cannot stand up for her people. Mujuru has no following she was never voted at Zanu PF congresses but handpicked by President Mugabe … Don’t count the votes she garnered as MP those are Zanu PF votes which will not help us come 2018,” said Mliswa.
Victory celebrations ... Mliswa's supporters in Norton ...
Mliswa thanked Tsvangirai and Tendai Biti’s People Democratic Party (PDP) for backing him in Norton but warned Tsvangirai not to let Mujuru lead the coalition as that will chase away people like him.
Mliswa said if Tsvangirai “marry” ZimPF I will fight them in 2018 elections together with Zanu PF.”
But ZimPF spokesperson Jealous Mawarire said he understands Mliswa’s “victory drunkenness” but should not be under any illusion that those that voted for him belong to him alone.
“Mliswa should know and realize that the people who voted for him are people who belong to other political parties that is the reason why Mliswa roped in elder Didymus Mutasa and MDC-T vice-president Nelson Chamisa to campaign for him” said Mawarire.
“ He (Mliswa) must also understand that a coalition is for political parties not individuals” said Mawarire.
Mliswa beat Zanu PF candidate Ronny Chindedza by a margin of 2,735 after garnering 8,927 against 6,192 for Chindedza.
Indications are that war veterans, who have declared that they won’t campaign and vote for President Mugabe in 2018, backed Mliswa in the Norton by-election.
The seat fell vacant when Zanu PF expelled war veterans leader Christopher Mutsvangwa accusing him of undermining the authority of the president and his wife, Grace Mugabe.
Factionalism is ravaging Zanu PF as two main groups are vying for President Mugabe’s succession.