Am Neither ZANU PF Or MDC, Temba Mliswa
14 June 2018
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Temba Mliswa

By Temba P. Mliswa|My rivals for the Norton parliamentary seat have gone into overdrive, with social media posts casting me as an unprincipled politician. Of “concern” to them is my purported “continued” links to ZANU(PF). The narrative is that I am a fork-tongued person, who, according to them, claims independence by day and is ZANU(PF) by night.

May I turn into a political lecturer for once, hopeful that my rivals will come out of this lesson well-schooled in issues of political allegiance and the separation of individual politicians and the political parties they might be aligned to.

Over and above that, I hope this will also clear the consciences of those who believe in me as a people-servant, not the wolf-in-sheep-skin Temba that is being sold to them by rival job seeking politicians.

Strangely, even those who belong to other parties besides ZANU(PF) and the MDC Alliance subscribe to the narrow political theory that you can not oppose both ZANU(PF) and the MDC. Their mistaken belief is that if you raise anything against one of the two parties, you automatically belong to the other.

As is in the public domain, I was unconstitutionally disowned by ZANU(PF) in 2015. I accepted my fate and began charting my own political path outside the ruling party. The party even employed unorthodox means against me, cheating its way to “victory” in the Hurungwe West by-election of that year. My supporters there, to this day, carry physical and psychological scars of the violence that was unleashed on them for supporting me. Refusing to take that lying down, I challenged the party in the Norton by-election in 2016. I prevailed, thanks to the people of Norton, who recognised my track record as a representative and left the ruling party with no room to repeat its Hurungwe West cheat feat.

That experience, which I relive every time I visit my farm in Hurungwe, made me make a bold decision, which I have always repeated. I repeat it here too: ZANU(PF) is the only party I have known in my political career. However, as long as ZANU(PF) fails to admit to its violent past, work positively towards making amends for it, and restore constitutionalism to its operations, I, Temba Peter Mliswa, will never want to be associated with them as an institution. Hence my continued standing as an Independent candidate in the forthcoming elections.

Now, a political party is not homogenous. Within ZANU(PF), there are people who do not subscribe to its institutional excesses. Within the MDC Alliance, there are people who do not subscribe to its institutional shortcomings. I may share a common interest with such people, without necessarily approving of the institutions they belong to. The joy of doing so as an Indendent is that I am not criminalised for it. I can do so without the threat of being fired from a party for associating with a rival institution.

My belief in the capabilities of His Excellency President ED Mnangagwa does not equate to an approval of ZANU(PF) as a party. My belief in the generational consensus as touted by Hon Nelson Chamisa does not equate to an endorsement of the MDC Alliance as an institution. Recently, the NPF party insinuated that it would back Hon Chamisa’s presidential bid. But they have not joined the Alliance, meaning they will most likely field parliamentary and local authority candidates against the Alliance, while backing the Alliance leader for the presidency.

The reason we have separate ballots for the presidency, parliament and local authorities is precisely that it is possible for a voter to vote for a presidential candidate but reject that candidate’s party in other ballots. Had that not been the case, we would simply vote for a president, whose party would then take up all the parliamentary and local authority seats.

Such is my support for ED. It is not support for ZANU(PF). Remember he was also at one point sacked by ZANU(PF), a clear illustration of the separation of the individual from the institution! He is not the personification of ZANU(PF). He happens to be in it, able to be fired from it. When Hon Chamisa says “Godisinit”, it does not make him God. Neither does it turn the Alliance into a religious organization.

Going forward, I have always believed that *youths* must eventually play a larger part in the governance of their country. That is why I support the concept of a generational consensus. In fact, even before it became a convenient campaign phrase, I made clear my ideological leaning to it by founding and leading to this day, the Youth Advocacy for Reform & Democracy (YARD).

Recently, I went back to Hurungwe West, in solidarity with my sister, Mary Chikoka-Mliswa, who was bidding to represent ZANU(PF) in the coming elections. She was successful. To some, that solidarity with a ZANU(PF) candidate is proof that I am tracing my steps back to the party. Yet no one has volunteered an incriminating piece of media with me chanting a ZANU(PF) slogan!

That is an unfortunate bid to entrench the politics of non-tolerance, even to one’s own kith and kin, that has made Zimbabwe a polarised society at all levels. A type of politics that defines political allegiances by the colour of one’s T-Shirt, instead of one’s conscience. Zimbabweans deserve better! There is a reason why the number of T-Shirts has never equated to the number of votes.

Maybe my upbringing makes me inherently tolerant and accommodating. I was raised in a family of political extremes. My father was ZIPRA while my mother was ZANLA. Tribally too. My mother is a MuManyika while my late father was of Karanga-Ndebele blood.

The joys of being an Independent derive from a freedom from institutional servitude that relegates people-service to the periphery. I can ally with any other politician, from whichever party, without the risk of a “party recall”. Being an Independent allows me to work with any politician I might share development ideology with, without being accused of betraying the party.

Let us meet in the next lesson.