Harare – The Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) stakeholders meeting with political parties came to an abrupt end Thursday after one of the country’s most controversial politicians Themba Mliswa went ballistic apparently because ZEC officials had refused to address the issues he had raised concerning preparations for the Norton by-election in which he is contesting.
Mliswa, a former Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairperson, will contest the Norton seat as an Independent candidate against Tinashe Chindeza of Zanu PF and David Choga of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) in a by-election scheduled for October 22.
The seat fell vacant following the recalling of former War Veterans Minister Christopher Mutsvangwa by the ruling Zanu PF party following a purge that claimed several other senior party officials.
Trouble started when a Zanu PF official attempted to answer a question posed by Mliswa to the ZEC officials, resulting in the emotionally charged Mliswa refusing to hand over the microphone to other speakers, saying he was not going to sit down until his concerns were addressed immediately in the meeting by ZEC officials.
Mliswa had asked what ZEC was doing about the political violence in his Norton constituency and why the electoral body had not set up a committee comprising the Zimbabwe Republic Police and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission to look into the issue as prescribed by the Constitution.
“This is a ZEC meeting not a Zanu PF meeting, he cannot answer me. Is ZEC an extension of Zanu PF? I did not disrupt this meeting all I want is for you to respond to what is happening in Norton. We cannot go to 2018 when things are like this in Norton,” Mliswa fumed.
“I put facts to you to respond; you are useless, adulterously useless. You are puppets and a waste of taxpayers’ money and time. You a disgrace to the nation, you must resign with immediate effect. You are getting people killed in an election where the environment is not conducive,” he added.
Mliswa went on to castigate the ZEC officials for failing to investigate the cause of the violence that rocked Hurungwe West Constituency, where he lost to Zanu PF in an election he described as not free and fair, citing intimidation and violence against his supporters.
Although the youthful Mliswa was finally persuaded by his election agent to leave the room, ZEC chairwoman, Justice Rita Makarau, had to call the meeting to an end saying it was no longer possible to continue.
This was after Mliswa had turned down Makarau’s offer to meet him one-on-one at her offices.
Makarau later told journalists that the skirmishes would not deter them from engaging with stakeholders, saying they would now create platforms at different levels to address the issues.
“This will not deter us and we will not stop from engaging. As ZEC we believe that only through dialogue can we see an improved voting process. We will engage the stakeholders when the tempers have cooled down and say do we want to proceed and if so; how do we want to engage in future meetings.
“We will continue with interest groups meetings that we have and we are going to meet with political parties anyway on their own, we are going to meet with civil society organisations and find exactly what they want to see us doing,” she said.
Makarau said some of the political leaders were using the platforms to vent their anger instead of taking them as an opportunity to move the process of reforms forward.
“These are supposed to be debating platforms, where the answers don’t come only from ZEC, they can come from anywhere. Bright ideas are not confined to ZEC. We can’t have a platform in which people just come to vent out their anger but we also need platforms where we move processes forward, where
people come up with constructive ideas and say we have got an issue and lets all address it; how then do we resolve that issue,” she said.