By Mlondolozi Ndlovu
Harare, October 25, 2016 – THE People’s Democratic Party (PDP) has congratulated independent candidate, Temba Mliswa for winning the weekend by-election in Norton but was quick to claim the election was rigged.
Mliswa, who is also former Zanu PF Mashonaland West chair, on Saturday brewed a shocker when he defeated well sponsored Zanu PF candidate, Ronald Chindedza by 8 927 to 6 192 votes.
This was the first loss by Zanu PF in a by-election since the harmonised elections in 2013.
Tendai Biti’s party said on Monday that while Mliswa’s victory was a breath of fresh air in a country whose electoral processes were firmly in Zanu PF’s hands, the extent to which Zanu PF tried to manipulate the poll was a big blemish.
“…As the PDP, our position is that the election results released on Sunday, 23 October 2016, are not in any way a reflection that the election was held in a free, fair and credible manner,” said party secretary for elections Settlement Chikwinya in a statement.
Chikwinya said the Norton poll outcome were not so much of a Zanu PF setback towards its umpteenth bid to retain power in 2018 as was widely believed by Zimbabwe’s broader opposition.
“In fact, the outcome of the Norton by-election may be one of the best results for Zanu PF and its propaganda machinery ahead of 2018 elections,” he said.
PDP said the victory over Zanu PF by an independent candidate would in fact give Zanu PF propagandists ammunition to defend the current electoral climate as also favourable to Zanu PF opponents, contrary to opposition claims.
“Basing on Saturday’s election results, Zanu PF will now have a platform to falsely claim that elections in Zimbabwe are held in a free and fair manner and there is no need to for electoral reforms,” added Chikwinya.
The former Mbizo legislator also said Mliswa, as an independent candidate, had been aided by the current divisions in the ruling party adding that the country’s meddlesome security chiefs had no hand in tilting the vote to Mliswa’s favour as was being alleged elsewhere.
“We should be aware that Mliswa managed to win the Norton parliamentary seat because of internal factional fights in Zanu PF were even its candidate was imposed. For the first time since 1980, this election is the only one where the securocrats stayed clear from the process,” they added.
Sentiments by the PDP officials also match with those expressed by MDC-T vice president Nelson Chamisa who said the 6 000 plus votes garnered by the Zanu PF candidate were still too high for a party facing massive disillusionment from the population.