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Minister accused of forging Zanu PF aspiring councillors’ signatures in ZEC nomination fiasco 

By James Muonwa l Mashonaland West Correspondent

MASHONALAND West Provincial Affairs Minister, Mary Mliswa-Chikoka has been fingered in a fraud storm amid accusations she forged the signatures of three aspiring councillors prompting the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) to withdraw their candidatures, last week.

The affected local authority candidates are namely, Kudzai Gasho of Ward 8 Karoi Town Council, Lameck Zhanda of Ward 4 of Zvimba Rural District Council (RDC), and Luke Rutter of Ward 31 of Zvimba RDC.

According to Gasho, the minister, who doubles as Zanu PF provincial chairman, had appended fake signatures on withdrawal papers and filed them with ZEC without their knowledge in a bid to “fix” them “for the bad blood that exists for various reasons.”

In a notice Monday, ZEC rescinded the earlier move to withdraw the trio, saying the candidates remain in contention, thereby nullifying earlier notification of withdrawals.

“It is hereby notified that the persons specified below, nominated for election with the elections to be held on 23 August 2023, who, in a notice published in the daily newspapers of 10 August 2023, had been erroneously indicated as having withdrawn.

“The persons remain candidates for their respective wards and their names will be included on the ballot paper for their respective wards,” ZEC wrote.

Rutter and Zhanda told an online newspaper they were shocked to read their names in a ZEC notice of purported withdrawal when, in fact, they had not backtracked.

“I was shocked to see my name on the list of candidates who were said to have withdrawn when I had never done so. That came when I was just having campaigns in my ward, I am happy that after we challenged ZEC, they managed to sort out the issue quickly,” Zhanda was quoted saying.

Both Rutter and Zhanda are allegedly loyalists of Local Government deputy minister, Marian Chombo, a declared adversary of Mliswa-Chikoka.

Speaking to following an appearance at the Electoral Court over the Heroes and Defence Forces holidays, Gasho said his lawyer and ZEC representatives had resolved the matter amicably after noting the electoral body had corrected the misrepresentation through a newspaper advert.

Gasho said attempts to lodge a police report at Harare Central against Mliswa-Chikoka hit a brick wall after officers advised to take the matter further “after elections.”

“I wanted a fraud or forgery docket opened against Minister Mary Mliswa-Chikoka because what she did was not befitting someone her stature, she has to be exposed. She stooped so low in a bid to settle personal scores,” said Gasho.

On August 11, Mliswa-Chikoka, through Zanu PF Provincial Youth League chairman, Tapiwa Masenda, issued a prohibition order on Gasho barring him from calling, addressing, or officiating at any meeting of the party.

He was also interdicted from visiting any Zanu PF office.

Gasho is accused of “bringing the name of the party into disrepute by engaging in singular campaigns against party directives and abusing your position as Hurungwe district coordinating committee (DCC) Youth Affairs (chairman) to commit an offense.”

Efforts to get a comment from Mliswa-Chikoka were fruitless by the time of publishing.

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