Source: Temba Mliswa threatens by-election pullout | The Financial Gazette September 22, 2016
By Nyasha Chingono
INDEPENDENT candidate, Themba Mliswa, has threatened to pull out of the Norton Parliamentary by-election scheduled for October 22 if police fail to set up a committee to investigate cases of politically-motivated violence against his supporters.
The Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) is empowered by law to direct the commissioner-general of the Zimbabwe Republic Police, Augustine Chihuri, to set up the committee to investigate cases of suspected violations of human rights.
The Electoral Act also states that for the purpose of general elections, the commissioner-general shall, in consultation with the ZHRC, appoint a senior police officer for each provincial centre who shall be the special police liaison officer responsible for the expeditious investigation of cases of politically-motivated violence or intimidation within that province once these come to the attention of a multi-party liaison committee or the ZHRC during the election period.
Mliswa’s campaign team has reportedly been harassed and his campaign posters destroyed.
He also alleges that he has been denied to hold rallies in ward 15, a perceived ZANU-PF stronghold.
Mliswa claims that Norton police have also denied him the opportunity to hold rallies in the constituency, although he recently was granted permission by the High Court to do so.
“It has further been brought to our attention that DISPOL (district police) Norton has refused to accept police notification of meeting letters submitted by members of my campaign. I therefore request that this matter is urgently addressed as it is infringing on my electoral rights to freedom to campaign as a candidate,” Mliswa said in a letter to Mashonaland West provincial police officer, senior assistant commissioner Rangarirai Mushaurwa, and copied to the Norton district police officer.
“As we speak I am going to court to say I cannot proceed until the commissioner general appoints this committee,” Mliswa said.
Speaking to the Financial Gazette, ZHCR chairperson, Elasto Mugwadi, said the commission had so far not received any cases of violence from Norton.
“We have not yet received any reports on violence in Norton, although we are mandated to monitor the election,” Mugwadi said.
Mugwadi said police had apprehended three individuals in connection with the violence that occurred in the Hurungwe West by-election held in June last year, demonstrating their commitment to deal with violent conduct during elections.
Mliswa contested in that election but lost to a ZANU-PF candidate, Keith Guzah.
Suspected ZANU-PF militia harassed Mliswa’s campaign team in the run-up to that by-election.
The Financial Gazette can report that no senior police officer has been appointed yet to monitor the Norton by-election.
The ZHCR, a human rights watchdog, said it would only monitor the by-election and not intervene in cases of violence.
“The current Constitution only allows us to observe and compile a report to ZEC. We are not allowed to intervene,” Mugwadi said.
The Norton Constituency seat fell vacant following the expulsion of former ZANU-PF parliamentarian, Christopher Mutsvangwa.
Mliswa bemoaned police involvement in the campaign, alleging that the uniformed forces had become an extension of ZANU-PF.
“How can it be viewed as a free and fair election when ZANU-PF is not even required to apply, yet they hold rallies,” complained Mliswa.