HARARE – In an ominous development for President Robert Mugabe’s warring Zanu PF — as the country’s 2018 elections beckon — many people in Hurungwe West in Mashonaland West Province want expelled former regional bigwig, Temba Mliswa, to continue representing them in Parliament.
The intriguing turn of events is likely to send shivers down the spines of party hawks, on whose prompting Mugabe and his wife Grace have effected brutal purges of senior officials, including Mliswa, who — together with former Vice President Joice Mujuru — have been accused of plotting to oust from power and assassinate the nonagenarian.
At a meeting of local party leaders at Karambazuma Secondary School yesterday, where the region was celebrating last year’s good ‘O’ level results, gathered war veterans and other party officials completely dissociated themselves from a petition that had allegedly been written to Zanu PF headquarters in Harare to the effect that Mliswa should be expelled from the party — insisting that the petition was “fake”.
Tafadzwa Zimuto, a youth league representative, told the Daily News on Sunday that the people in the constituency disagreed very strongly with the decision to expel the popular Mliswa.
“We are the ones who voted for Mliswa and as such we are going to vote for him again, even as an independent,” he said.
Another local who gave his name as Comrade Kaparama, from Mashumwa District, said many people were “pained by the unexpected news” of Mliswa’s expulsion from the party.
“But our stance is that we will stand by him and if they can’t take him back then he should stand as an independent”, he said.
Edious Hungwe, a war veteran from Magumwe District, felt so betrayed by the party’s leadership that he regretted the fact that so many Zimbabweans had sacrificed their lives for the liberation of the country — all seeming “in vain”.
“I don’t even know why I went to war. He (Mliswa) brought so much development here. We have had so many MPs but he is a stand-out guy.
“The constituency also demands a meeting with (party political commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere so as to get the clear picture. If they say he has been fired we will then declare him an independent.
“All 18 districts are represented here by the top five, including the chairman, chairwoman and youth leaders. Many of them openly wept today. They have signed a petition declaring support for Mliswa,” he said.
Addressing the gathering a defiant Mliswa claimed that he was not a loser and would not give up easily.
“By elections are coming and comrades, I can tell you that I am not a loser. If they bring by elections I will stand and win.
“Chombo (Ignatius) wants to take my farm and give people stands when he has multiple farms. I did so much for that farm and now I am not allowed on it. I have heard what you agreed here and a person’s vote is his secret and I will continue with development issues and with the resolutions you made here will take me forward.
“You say Kasukuwere should come here. He is also scared of me because I am young and have ideas and he can’t face me,” charged Mliswa.
Meanwhile, a defiant Mliswa, the expelled former Zanu PF provincial chairperson for Mashonaland West, went on with his normal duties as a ruling party legislator on Friday, saying he had still to be officially notified about his reported expulsion.
He said then that he was “completely in the dark” about the allegations that had been levelled against him, and why he had not been summoned to attend any party hearing — having only learnt “through the media” that he had been expelled.
In that light, the firebrand politician said, he would carry on his work and remain a loyal cadre of the ruling party, as “politics runs in my blood”.
Speaking to the Daily News on Sunday’s sister paper, the Daily News, soon after chairing the parliamentary portfolio committee on Sports and Education on Friday, Mliswa said he was not moved by all the reports about him, including those that said he had been expelled from the ruling party.
“I don’t know the reasons why it is said that I was expelled from Zanu PF as I have only read about it in the press. There was no disciplinary hearing against me or any charge laid against me.
“People can also kick Temba out of politics but they cannot take away politics from me. I want to thank my party for giving me the opportunity to work for it and I will remain serving it,” Mliswa added.
Asked further why he was still attending Parliament given that his party had expelled him, he said as he was yet to receive an official notification from Zanu PF, he could not stop working for his constituency.
“There are formal procedures to be followed, and the Speaker of the National Assembly is yet to receive the letter stating that I am fired from the party and that I am no longer an MP, just as I have also not received any expulsion letter,” Mliswa said.
He added that his portfolio committee members had asked him to continue chairing the committee as he was still the legitimate chairperson.
Pressed further about what the future had in store for him, Mliswa said he would take a back seat and rest at his farm in Hurungwe West, if his expulsion was confirmed, but would continue to support Zanu PF.
“I am not going to stand as an independent candidate in the event of a by-election in my constituency. The people in the constituency will decide, but I am going to remain with them and work with them.
“I am not the first politician to be expelled as it has happened to many others, but one can always come back in the future,” Mliswa said.