BULAWAYO – Newly-elected Norton independent legislator Temba Mliswa has challenged opposition parties to audit each other’s numbers before finalising coalition talks.
Mliswa — who has openly thrown his weight behind MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s leadership of the proposed grand coalition of opposition forces — said some parties were not eligible to be part of the merged groups as they lacked the numbers.
“All political parties should be audited first such that we get to know who they are, not just to say it’s me . . . Mliswa, my wife, my son and my secretary,” the former Zanu PF MP and once-staunch President Robert Mugabe supporter told journalists here over the weekend.
“To those talking about the coalition, they should sit down and see how it works because honestly, as far as I am concerned, the coalition does not exist,” he said, adding that “for instance, Nera (National Electoral Reform Agenda) has got so many political parties but do they have people”?
“Take us, do rallies in each constituency, call your people and see who has more people. That’s simple.
“That’s when we come up with who should be the candidate for what area.
“We just have to go statistical rather than making noise yet do not have any backing,” said Mliswa, who recently beat Zanu PF’s Ronald Chindedza in the Norton by-election.
Asked to give a list of the opposition parties which he thought had numbers, Mliswa singled out the Tsvangirai-led MDC as the main opposition party before challenging People’s Democratic Party leader Tendai Biti, Renewal Democrats of Zimbabwe president Elton Mangoma and MDC leader Welshman Ncube to “go back home”.
“The coalition should have somebody who leads it. My opinion is that Simba Makoni (Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn president) . . . has the numbers.
“He may probably come back considering his performance in 2008 but I will urge Biti to go back to MDC,” he said, further stating that “as for Ncube, we should look at his results in 2013 how he performed but let him come on board and perhaps become the VP for this region”.
“Mangoma should as well join Tsvangirai. With that arrangement, I think they will win the elections.”
Quizzed on where he placed the Zimbabwe People First (ZPF) led by former vice president Joice Mujuru, Mliswa said while he had nothing against Mujuru, it was up to them to “first take part in these coming elections to really prove who they are in terms of numbers”.
Speaking after his victory, and in support of a grand coalition, Mliswa said the support that he had received from Tsvangirai and the MDC, war veterans, village heads and ordinary Zimbabweans, among many other people, was both “amazing and critical”, and a sign-post to what would happen in 2018 if “like-minded people come together”.
“To be honest and truthful, I wouldn’t have won this seat had it not been for Tsvangirai. He promised to support me to make sure that I win the election and true to his word, he came to the party. He dispatched his team and MDC vice president Nelson Chamisa was actually on the ground campaigning for me.
“Even when Zanu PF unleashed violence on us, Chamisa was caught in the crossfire and inhaled teargas just like all of us. It’s a fact of life that Tsvangirai has the people. It took him just to advise his structures to work with me and victory was delivered.
“If Tsvangirai decides to accommodate Mai Mujuru, then so be it, but that man is not only popular and genuine, he is also a natural leader and a father figure.
“The people of Zimbabwe like him and we can’t take that away from him,” he added.
Meanwhile, Biti has vowed to never re-join the MDC.
In an exclusive interview with the Daily News last month, Biti said re-joining the MDC was not an option.
“I will never go back to the MDC, never! In capital letters never, over my dead body! I can work with the MDC in a coalition anytime,” he said.
“Any time I will work with Tsvangirai, anytime I will work with Joice Mujuru, anytime I will work with Simba Makoni, Welshman Ncube but in a coalition, never by way of joining any of their parties.”