The Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) candidate for Mbizo Constituency, Settlement Chikwinya, says his party has been banned by the police from holding door to door campaigns and car rallies.
Chikwinya, was one of the six legislators who were recalled from Parliament on March 17, 2021, by the People Democratic Party (PDP), having won the Mbizo seat in 2018 for the MDC Alliance.
In an interview with CITE, Chikwinya, seeking to reclaim his seat, lamented how the ruling party was allowed to go about their campaigning activities, unlike the opposition.
“So far there are no incidences of violence but when we look at the issue of environment, we remain concerned by the selective application of the law-by-law enforcement agencies who are arresting members of CCC as they embark on their campaign yet they leave Zanu PF members,” he said.
“We have been addressed by the Dispol Superintendent Commanding Kwekwe District who told us we must not embark on door-to-door campaigns and car rallies. However, Zanu PF is doing the same, going ahead without any police problems.”
National Police Spokesperson, Assistant Commissioner, Paul Nyathi, said he could not respond to the issue as he was not aware of it.
“Maybe it’s communication at provincial level, I can’t answer on something I’m not really appraised of. Zanu PF has its own spokesperson. As for the alleged police directive, I am not aware. Maybe you can contact the provincial police spokesperson for Midlands,” Nyathi said when reached for comment.
Nevertheless, Chikwinya said CCC was mulling using traditional methods of campaigning, such as mass rallies but added these were a risk given in light of Covid-19.
“During these Covid-19 times, people are genuinely afraid of congregating enmasse because of Covid-19. There are also limitations due to Covid-19 regulations, as only a maximum of 100 people is allowed per rally,” he said, noting mass rallies could also fail to work in reaching out to people.
“The mass rallies may not work this time and we have not yet launched one. Again, we have to apply (for permission) and we are still weighing options. We are in a bit of a fix and a mess.”
CCC will be holding some party programmes this coming weekend and Chikwinya said they would use them to assess how the police would intervene.
“The police are afraid of the current ruling party policies and are literally quacking in their own boots,” he said.
“The only serious contenders are Zanu PF and CCC so you find CCC is the only one barred because the other parties are not serious contenders and are not on the ground anyway.”
He added that the party could step up its online campaigning but this came at a cost to consumers of the message considering that most people could not afford to buy data.
“You don’t want to campaign whilst giving a cost to the consumer of the message. The cost must be deposited to you, the intended beneficiary. We have conducted online press conferences but for one to download 16 megabytes it’s a cost and to me that type of campaign will not reach out to many due to the cost of our data,” said the former legislator.
Chikwinya said the party was hoping to capitalise on door-to-door campaigns, where fliers are distributed and people could read in the comfort of their own homes.
“But police working in liaison with Zanu PF know this is a very effective campaign and have decided to bar these door-to-door campaigns,” he alleged, noting a time would come when people would resist bad laws.
“You can only restrict people to a certain extent. If you come up with a bad law it can be resisted and I’m sure we have no choice but to restrict these bad laws.”
The Mbizo MP candidate added his message to the electorate was simple.
“This is a by-election. We have a constitutional mandate as citizens to reclaim our space in Parliament and provide accountability and transparency. MPs once elected have a constitutional duty to put the government in check, to restore constitutionalism and parliamentary democracy,” Chikwinya said.
He believes parliamentary democracy has been decimated by politicians who embedded themselves with the state.
“Seen in the compromise of one Douglas Mwonzora and remaining MPs who no longer provide any debate or alternative to Zanu PF, purely on the basis that they are now a compromised outlet,” Chikwinya said.
Chikwinya claimed CCC was receiving more reception from people who were excited by the change in identity.
“There is no more confusion between MDC Alliance and CCC. People have one choice alone,” he said.