BY BLESSED MHLANGA/ NUNURAI JENA
Mliswa, who went into the by-election as an underdog, garnered 8 927 votes against Chindedza’s 6 192 votes, while David Choga of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) came a distant third, with 89 votes.
A former Hurungwe West legislator and Zanu PF Mashonaland West provincial chairperson, Mliswa, in thanking his supporters, said: “This victory is not for Norton residents alone, but for Zimbabweans and it’s a warning to President (Robert) Mugabe that he will lose the 2018 elections just the same way Zanu PF has lost the by-election.
“I’m the real bull in the kraal. President Mugabe sent his small bulls (Vice-President Emmerson) Mnangagwa, (Vice-President Phelekezela) Mphoko and (Zanu PF commissar Saviour) Kasukuwere and I defeated them.
“Now I’m going for the biggest bull in their kraal, President Mugabe, because there must be one bull in Zimbabwe.”
Soon after results were announced, former Zanu PF Norton legislator, Christopher Mutsvangwa, who was expelled from Zanu PF and Parliament for alleged indiscipline, blamed Kasukuwere’s “arrogance” for contributing to the ruling party’s defeat.
“Tyson is the devil’s gift, the black magic spell that will sink all those in the Zanu PF revolutionary party that embraced and promoted an evil agenda of unbridled avarice, maniacal kleptocracy and shameless attempt at power grab,” he said.
“He can now lick his wounds after the no-nonsense and plucky Norton electorate gave him the boot. Thank you Norton voters from the land of the brave, the home of Chimurenga I of 1896.”
Mutsvangwa declared that Zanu PF would lose the forthcoming elections if it continues relying on Kasukuwere and the G40 faction to lead its campaigns.
“Norton by-election is a game changer that dispenses with the mahumbwe (child’s play) type depredations of the petty, parochial, corrupt and thieving G40 of Jonso (Jonathan Moyo), Kasukuwere, (Patrick) Zhuwao and Mphoko,” he said.
But Kasukuwere said he would not place much significance to the Norton by-election results.
“Temba’s win doesn’t follow that Zanu PF will lose in 2018. This is an opportunity to quickly reflect and strengthen our party,” he said.
In a message later posted on his Twitter account, Kasukuwere said: “The message from the electorate is there for us to digest and we will return, no doubt. Norton is home to great citizens and setbacks are normal.
“Norton — we will continue working together and fulfil our promises. Norton has eluded us. Key lessons have been learnt. Thank you to our supporters for coming out and voting for our candidate.”
Opposition parties MDC-T, Zimbabwe People First and PDP joined Mliswa in celebrations, saying the victory showed people were now tired of being bribed with freebies.
MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu said Mliswa’s victory will not stop the call for electoral reforms, amid allegations of massive violations recorded in the polls.
“We should never, ever think that the regime has reformed simply because Mliswa clinched victory in Norton. We are acutely aware of the fact that rural areas are presently being ring-fenced by the regime’s terror machinery,” he said.
ZimPF spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire said: “It is a triumph of the will of the people and a clear indication that electoral fraud, through doling out of stands, has its own limitations.”
Former Finance minister Tendai Biti’s PDP said: “First of all, we congratulate Temba on his victory and we hope he will bring his new-found energy to fight against Zanu PF, which he used to fight for.”
Mliswa won the hotly contested by-election, where the ruling party had pulled all the stops — including unleashing violence on Mliswa’s supporters — to ensure a resounding victory for its candidate.
Chindedza had access to State-facilitated freebies, such as food and residential stands, to dish out to the electorate, in addition to massive solidarity support from Mnangagwa, Mphoko, Kasukuwere and Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo, among several other top government officials, who featured in his campaign.
Last Thursday, Mnangagwa declared that Zanu PF should win the Norton by-election at all costs, threatening to withdraw all State funding to the constituency if the seat fell to Mliswa.
On the other hand, Mliswa had to negotiate several electoral barricades — including police bans on his campaign rallies, assaults and intimidation of his supporters by suspected Zanu PF activists — as he tried to reach out to his supporters.
His only solace was the support he received from a group of disgruntled war veterans and opposition parties, particularly MDC-T and PDP.