HomeLocal News‘Third Force’ enters political fray

‘Third Force’ enters political fray

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FORMER Zanu PF Mashonaland West chairman and Norton independent legislator, Temba Mliswa is preparing to lead what he has labelled a “third force” in Zimbabwe’s treacherous political terrain ahead of general elections next year.

BY RICHARD CHIDZA

In a message to would-be candidates this week, Mliswa said a committee had been set up to receive and verify applications from aspiring independent parliamentary candidates.

“We are still in the process of receiving interested candidates and compiling the list of the full 210 independent candidates.

“Remember, in order to qualify for selection, one must have their own resources, list of councillors and your proposal will be submitted and vetted before the third force executive committee for approval. Once all 210 names have been processed and approved, the list will be disseminated accordingly,” he said.

However, analysts immediately warned Mliswa should be viewed with scepticism by democratic forces fighting to remove Zanu PF from power.

Political analyst, Maxwell Saungweme said Mliswa could be a Zanu PF proxy disguised as an opposition politician.
“I am not sure what his third force is for. He appears to me like a decoy of one of the main Zanu PF factions. You can’t trust him with genuine opposition politics. What we need is for (President Robert) Mugabe to go and then Zimbabwe can move forward politically.

“Mugabe is a major stumbling block to change and the most significant thing that must happen is his exit. But opposition parties need to throw away their pride and coalesce under one leader. Otherwise a Mugabe exit will usher in another Zanu PF regime if the opposition confronts him in divided form,” he said.

“So politically, I don’t see the need or impact of a Mliswa third force. We need a united and stronger opposition. Mliswa is actually a problem making it difficult for the opposition to coalesce. He looks like a Zanu PF intelligence plant out there to cause confusion in the opposition. He must be treated with a hefty pinch of salt.”

With Zanu PF caught up in the throes of a debilitating internal struggle for power, Mugabe, facing the twilight of his career and opposition forces still to find common ground on a proposed coalition, Mliswa, buoyed by his electoral victory late last year, is seemingly cocky about his chances.

Mliswa was kicked out of the ruling party as part of a massive crackdown on dissenting voices ahead of and in the aftermath of the Zanu PF congress in 2014 that also claimed the scalp of then Vice-President Joice Mujuru and other leading figures.

After losing his Hurungwe parliamentary seat in the subsequent by-election, Mliswa last year contested and won the Norton by-election. He has now set his sights on leading a grouping of independent candidates that he says will contest all the 210 seats on offer across the country.

Mliswa initially seemed to throw his political lot with Mujuru before a brief flirtation with MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai.

However, after winning the Norton by-election, the abrasive Mliswa, whose admiration for Vice-President Emmerson Mnangagwa, a leading protagonists in the acrimonious Zanu PF succession fight, has never been in doubt, seemed to have decided against coalition politics.

MDC-T spokesperson, Obert Gutu yesterday said he had seen a list of candidates, who are to represent Mliswa’s third force, but could not be drawn into evaluating how this could affect the envisaged coalition by opposition groups.

“I have no brief to speak for Mliswa, suffice to say that, as a party, we remain committed to finding common ground with like-minded groups in order to democratise Zimbabwe. I have just seen Mliswa’s list on social media and have no idea what really it is about. However, everyone has a right to associate and disassociate as long as it is within the confines of the law,” he said.

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