By Tariro Senderayi
Many people were sitting on the edge this past weekend in anticipation of a favorable outcome from the Norton by elections held on Saturday. The build up to the elections was marred with cliche reports of intimidation, vote buying and material campaigning the form of food and residential stands from Zanu Pf candidate Ronald Chindedza.
Despite all these former Zanu Pf Mashonaland West provincial chairperson and Hurungwe West legislator , Temba Mliswa emerged victorious in the elections after throwing his name in the hat running as an independent candidate. Quite a historic win which will go down in the books of history as the first time Zanu PF lost in a by election. Even Zanu PF national political commissar, Saviour Kasukuwere conceded to the defeat on Twitter.
This victory by Mliswa is one many should take lessons from as Zanu Pf like any other political party in the world does not like to lose. Some senior Zanu Pf members have made it clear to opposition parties calling for electoral reforms that they will not reform themselves out of power. Their commitment to winning in the previous elections has been backed by rolling out tonnes of rice and 9 000 residential stands in Norton.
Open Parly takes a look at how Mliswa became a darling in Norton and scooped the elections.
- Mliswa scrutinized previous elections and how Zanu Pf always seemed to win. As an ex member of the ruling party he had an insight to their tactics and identified how he could manoeuvre his way to victory. Mliswa’s YARD 7 Point Plan (YARD7PP) was put to test in the just ended elections. The YARD7PP was penned with the chief goal of tackling electoral irregularities that have been witnessed in the past elections dating decades back. The YARD7PP includes taking responsibility, voter education, voter registration, continuous inspection of the voter’s role and the polling stations until the voting day, protect the voter ,the actual voting, defending your vote if need be. Mliswa was prudent enough to employ his own YARD members to his campaign foot soldiers and polling station observers.
- Like an out spoken character that does not shy away from sharing his view, he took to the social media to interact with people in Norton. These efforts were complemented by a vibrant media campaign which saw him constantly speaking at press conferences. His inclusive approach and willingness to engage people from all walks of life including war veterans earned him more support.
Even on the election day, his observers continuously updated people on the progress via WhatsApp and messages. He had YARD observers stationed at every polling station. Observers were tasked to take pictures too and share. Evidence of this is when observers noticed that buses from as far as Gweru had arrived in Norton which raised alarm. However, the constant updates closed loopholes that may have been used to his disadvantage.
- His door to door campaigns in Norton proved to be a winning solution as the potential supporters at the time had the opportunity to raise their concerns and ask any questions they might have.This campaign made him accessible to the people.
- Temba did not rely on the old rhetoric of how Mugabe has failed and this and that but instead relied on his message which was provide solutions going forward. He knew that hog washing someone could only take you so far instead showing what you are offering will do the trick.
- He also created strategic collaborations with other political players that he knew had influence. He did not boast on assumption that he could emerge at the top with a solo campaign. Anyone who had a similar political ideology was aproached for this campaign and that includes the youth, MDC, Zimbabwe People First, NERA, Tajamuka and the War veterans.
- Remember the early bird catches the first worm. As such Mliswa rolled up his sleeves the moment he decided to run for Norton and started campaigning to the notoron residents. In this path he was open to critic and new ideas.
Congratulations are in order for Mliswa, the journey to fulfill the election promises begins. Meanwhile the ruling party is consulting their political scientists and revisit the 2018 strategy for 2018 . Some questions will only be answered by time as many still wonder is MDC regrets passing on these elections? What more of the recipients of the campaign gifts, will they give it back? Could this be another move by the ruling party to convince the international community that the country doesn’t need the electoral reforms the opposition keeps talking about.