Independent candidate for the Norton constituency by-election Temba Mliswa has accused police of selectively applying the law and aiding his Zanu PF rival Ronald Chindedza ahead of the October 22 poll.
The former Zanu PF legislator on Friday had to file an urgent High Court application to get permission to hold a rally — something he said shows the selective application of the law by the police.
Mliswa was on Saturday forced to hold a meeting with his campaign team in the open amid threats of disruption by Zanu PF activists.
“We had to go to the courts to obtain a court order. Police have been refusing to take our notification letters so we had to go to the High Court and that is a very expensive process, it is a ploy to drain me financially as an independent candidate,” said Mliswa.
The voluble politician, who will slug it out with two other candidates for the seat that was left vacant following the expulsion of ex-War Veterans minister Christopher Mutsvangwa from Zanu PF, accused the police of being political commissars for the deeply-divided ruling party.
“They intimidated people. I think they are now starting to use the police since they have been abandoned by war veterans,” said Mliswa.
On Friday, the High Court overturned the police ban on Mliswa’s rallies.
This was also after the same court had on September 3, ruled in Mliswa’s favour.
“It would be grossly unreasonable for me to continue coming to court every time that I want to hold the remaining rallies for I will spend most of my time in court and less on the ground,” Mliswa said, adding that his Zanu PF counterpart is being allowed to campaign freely.
“I am of the view that the actions of the 1st (officer commanding police Manyame District), 2nd (commissioner general of police Augustine Chihuri) and 3rd respondents (Home Affairs minister Ignatius Chombo), is to aid Zanu PF in the election race.
“I hold no doubt that the law is being applied selectively and the 1st and 3rd respondents are acting as big brothers of the other contestant Zanu PF.
“I am worried that 4th respondent (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec)) is not playing its part in ensuring that the elections are held freely and fairly in terms of the law,” the former Zanu PF Hurungwe West constituency MP said.
High Court judge Owen Tagu granted the application and barred the police from interfering with Mliswa’s rally.
“Applicant (Mliswa) be and is hereby allowed to exercise his constitutional right to campaign freely and peacefully by holding a ward rally at Mutipitipi Primary School at Lydiate Farm in Norton ward 14 on the 17th of September 2016 from 8:am to 5:30pm.
“The 1st, 2nd and 3rd respondents be and are hereby interdicted from interfering directly or indirectly, disrupting or stopping the public gathering…without a valid court order granted by a competent court,” Tagu ruled.
In his court papers, he said the police was infringing on his constitutional rights to form, join and to participate in the activities of any political party of his choice.
“I have fulfilled my obligation to notify first respondent of my intended public gathering as is required of me in terms of the Public Order and Security Act,” Mliswa said in his application filed on his behalf by his lawyer Marufu Mandevere, from Kadzere, Hungwe and Mandevere Legal Practitioners.
He said political campaigns are already in full swing for the October 22 by-election, adding that because of the police’s conduct he has failed to hold two previous campaign rallies.
“It is therefore clear that if I am not granted the relief I seek herein, my political opponents will gain an unfair advantage over me and my campaign will be irreparably prejudiced,” he said.
He told the court that he had already expended $20 000 in preparation of the rally through printing T-shirts, fliers, posters, transport arrangements and a public address system. daily news