Independent legislator for Norton Temba Mliswa has responded to alleged attacks from his predecessor Christopher Mutsvangwa. The two had a public spat at a Cholera Threat Assessment Exercise in Norton on Saturday. Mliswa issued a statement saying that he is not losing any sleep at the prospect of running against Mutsvangwa in the coming election. He also told Mutsvangwa that he would not be bullied and that Mutsvangwa should not feel entitled because he is President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Special Advisor, a title which Mliswa scoffed at.
Below, we publish Mliswa’s Statement in full:
04 February 2018
PRESS STATEMENT: SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT ON THE MUSWA / MUTSVANGWA EXCHANGE
Press statement begins……
It seems speculation and media distortion are rife surrounding the events of Saturday 03 February 2018, between Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa and myself. For the sake of clarity here is an account of what actually transpired.
As you may be aware, Norton has recently faced a cholera scare emanating from reported cases in Chegutu. As a result of this and in quick reaction to contain the threat, I responded to the inner clarion call and facilitated the timely sourcing of adequate medications, equipment and preventative disinfectants as well as the establishment of an isolation zone through personal donation and that of kind well-wishers. Fortunately, test results when returned showed negative for cholera but the alert ensured that Norton is fully equipped in the event of an outbreak.
In light of the cholera threat to the district, the Ministry of Health led by Hon. D. Parirenyatwa embarked upon a cholera threat assessment exercise, visiting both Chegutu and Norton. Due to prior commitments in the constituency, apologies of which had been communicated to the District Administrator who was the MC at the two gatherings, I arrived to join the delegation at Katanga Clinic in Norton where the proceedings were already underway. It should further be noted at this point that l was in full communication with the DA throughout the whole time receiving progress updates as to when the delegation were departing from Chegutu for my participation in the programme.
As a legislator who represents the people, it would have been amiss for me to abandon the people who had congregated to attend the 3 separate Ward developmental meetings as had been scheduled and featured a host of invited guests amongst them being Chief Chivero. So contrary to warped perception, I was not late but dividing my duties to ensure that I fulfil my obligations as demanded and made the effort to attend the gathering as per my invitation as an invited guest and Member of Parliament for Norton Constituency and had further facilitated lunch for the visiting dignitaries as requested.
As the initiative was a Government initiative, the District Administrator, Mr Tomu had drawn up a programme of events and as protocol demands, as the sitting Member of Parliament and therefore political head in the Constituency, I was slated in the programme to convey the Vote of Thanks. However to my amazement upon arriving at the venue, Ambassador Mutsvangwa immediately launched into attack mode referring to my position as an Independent Member of Parliament in Norton as a “borrowed” seat.
This I innocently took in good humour until instead of inviting me to take the floor to subsequently deliver the Vote of Thanks as per order of events, Ambassador Mutsvangwa mischievously usurped the programme and invited Hon. Shamu to the floor to deliver the Vote of Thanks. At this point I interjected, questioning the change of programme and my exclusion thereof, genuinely believing there was a mistake of some sort. However, Ambassador Mutsvangwa insisted that Hon. Shamu continueand began approaching me in a menacing manner whilst hurling a barrage of obscenities and rants that I should rejoin ZANU PF or leave Norton, a chant that was quickly echoed by, now obviously planted rogue elements.
I have always respected Ambassador Mutsvangwa’s capacity and enjoyed a cordial relationship with him as my subordinate when I was the Chairman of Mashonaland West province. I speak on behalf of all Members of Parliament when I say that they should be afforded their level of respect as duly elected members of one of the three pillars of state.
It is unfortunate that an event aimed at such a noble cause would be hijacked and turned into a political party rally. Cholera and other communicable diseases know no boundaries and when an outbreak occurs the scourge transcends over party lines and affiliations. My concern has absolutely nothing to do with elections or campaigning, anyone is free to stand for election in Norton or anywhere else for that matter, that is democracy. It is Ambassador Mutsvangwa who believes he is still the Member of Parliament for Norton rather than me having a fear of competition. At the end of the day whilst competition is healthy, Ambassador Mutsvangwa is certainly not someone I would lose sleep over if he were to throw his hat into the political ring for Norton.
Furthermore, it is blatantly obvious that Ambassador Mutsvangwa was out to politicise the event in that he not only excluded me from the programme but also did not give the floor to the Chairperson of the Norton Town Council, Councillor Precious Mufahore as initially scheduled presumably as she is a member of the MDC party. I may differ with her on a number of issues but it is important to put politics aside at such events and practice political tolerance for the greater good as well as observing and respecting Government structures accordingly. The fact that I choose to make enquiries on the spot as things are happening to get it over and done with does not brand me unruly or disruptive in any way, in fact, it was important to seek clarity to mitigate a precedence from being set.
Ambassador Mutsvangwa’s unwarranted and barbaric act is in total contrast to the President’s vision and is, in fact, damaging to the brand that the President is painstakingly creating. It would appear that the emotional character of Ambassador Mutsvangwa’s is in direct conflict with the cool and calm persona of the President.
ZANU PF has long been castigated for violence and violent tendencies and Ambassador Mutsvangwa’s shenanigans are reminiscent of those dark days. He exposed his lack of political maturity and tolerance as well as ignorance and/or of neglect of the observance of protocol. He has further exposed his crass nature and his unpopularity in the constituency will soon become apparent, something that no amount of bullying, rice or food aid donations will compensate for.
This unfortunate incident brings to the fore the question of the role and responsibilities of a Special Advisor to the President. It is important that this is clearly understood and articulated as is that of the President and all the structures beneath him which may be referred to as enshrined in the Constitution. The President has the mandate to make various appointments as he sees fit, this I do not challenge, however, I think it is important that with these appointments comes the parameters in which a duly appointed person operates to avoid a sense of entitlement or self-aggrandisement leading to the abuse of portfolio or job title.
Such abuse often gives the general public the misguided conception that one who holds such title has powers that they really do not hold and as such imaginary powers are often used to intimidate and bully. Such tendencies were witnessed during the tenure of Dr Gono as the Reserve Bank Governor where Kereke assumed roles and powers he did not actually possess as Dr Gono’s Advisor or also as was further witnessed with Chibage as Advisor to Chihuri. Being an advisor is more of an administrative role rather than an operational one and centres on recommendations, analysing and report making.
Ambassador Chris Mutsvangwa would, therefore, be well advised to enter the Norton political arena on his own merit and not rely on his proximity to the President as Special Advisor to gain him any measure of political capital. The bullying through job title, perceived powers and usurping of positions needs to be nipped in the bud before the resurfacing of the violence tag often associated with ZANU PF is allowed to rear its ugly head.
Section 3(2) of the Constitution of Zimbabwe provides that “the principles of good governance, which bind the State and all institutions and agencies of the government at every level, include— (a) a multi-party democratic political system; (d) respect for the rights of all political parties (f) respect for the people of Zimbabwe, from whom the authority to govern is derived (h) the fostering of national unity, peace and stabilityAmbassador Mutsvangwa’s actions are therefore in direct contradiction with the Constitution.
Another point that baffles me is why Ambassador Mutsvangwa, as the Chairperson of the Zimbabwe National War Liberators and Veterans Association (ZNWLVA), would snub a Mashonaland West Provincial Was Vets meeting to discuss their welfare choosing instead to attend and be part of a task force at gatherings in Chegutu and Norton. A clear illustration of misplaced priorities and putting political expedience over call of duty. I have it on good authority that he is generally aloof regarding his attendance at war vets meetings which I would probably put down to arrogance noting the huge disparity of his quality of life and that of the majority of war vets.
Norton is a constituency of independent thinking people with divergent views who must be respected. Ambassador Mutsvangwa must not treat Norton like a toilet for hirn to just walk in and out of it as he pleases. If he truly felt that he “owned” Norton then surely he could have contested in the last by-election as an Independent upon his expulsion from ZANU PF?
There is no room in Zimbabwe’s new dispensation for rowdy and/or violent behaviour. The new dispensation calls for patriotism and working together. I note with concern that if the local broadcaster is allowed to continue reporting biased and nonfactual stories then we will have an uphill battle in upholding free, fair and credible elections.
Well Ambassador Mutsvangwa it is shots fired and you caught me unaware, well done, however, take note, the minority will have their say but the majority will always have their way. It is only a matter of time and may the best man win and I hope you will be able to congratulate me when that happens.
“Norton will never be the same again”
Hon. Temba P. Mliswa
Member of Parliament
Press statement ends……….