Zimbabwe: Things Falling Apart for Chamisa

Photo: The Herald
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa (file photo).
analysis

Following the demise of the MDC-T founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, in February this year, MDC-Alliance Presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa did not waste time and strategically positioned himself to take over power by hook and crook, disregarding party constitutional provisions.

The novelty of his candidature seemed to be succeeding in the beginning as the electorate wanted to hear what he had to offer, but, alas nothing of substance was on offer. Halfway through, he also realised that something was not adding up. He started asking why President Emmerson Mnangagwa was not holding rallies. All this time President Mnangagwa was busy solving economic issues and re-engaging the international community.

When President Mnangagwa hit the campaign trail, Chamisa started to complain about how ZANU PF was carrying out its voter mobilisation.

In the process, Chamisa turned his vitriol against the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) demanding electoral reforms before the polls could be held. Then Chamisa's electoral world started to collapse around him.

White constituency

Addressing a rally in Mutare last Friday, ED decided to put Chamisa in his rightful place. He commented that Chamisa's whining on the design of the ballot paper was out of place. "Chamisa is on number two on the ballot paper and I am on number 15, but he is still complaining. MDC Alliance inongopopota ichingopopota, isu tichingotonga," said President Mnangagwa.

President Mnangagwa pulled the electoral rag under Chamisa's feet after he (the President) held an interface with the white community at the Borrowdale Racecourse in Harare. Chamisa and his allies in the MDC Alliance erroneously assumed the white constituency was already in the bag as per happenings in the past and little did they know that the new dispensation had an ace up its sleeve - inclusivity in the new Zimbabwe.

Having failed to find anything wrong with the initiative, the MDC Alliance ended up criticising ZANU-PF for providing decorated chairs, tea and biscuits for the attendees which they said contrasted with the party's other campaign gatherings. To Chamisa and his cronies' embarrassment, it turned out that the meeting had been organised by the white community and the tea was an enterprising private individual's project which had nothing to do with ZANU-PF.

Unconstitutional demands

The electoral demands made to ZEC were not relevant at law as they lacked legal basis or needed to be resolved through constitutional amendments first. ZEC chair Justice Priscilla Chigumba chose to stick to her mandate and refused to budge on unconstitutional demands. Stung by this, Chamisa threatened ZEC and Justice Chigumba with post-election violence if his demands were not met. "Hakudyiwi rinopisa muno . . . mukaita zvokutamba ndinodira jecha muupfu. Hamuridyi sadza iroro." charged Chamisa while addressing his supporters in Mkoba, Gweru, over the weekend.

Chamisa had so much faith in the Council of Elders when he heard that it was heading for Harare. The Kofi Annan-led group did not mince its words regarding the MDC-Alliance's demands. "What is important is that we all play by the rules and we make reasonable demands; if we make demands which are unreasonable and which cannot be fulfilled, we are complicating processes," said Annan on behalf of the Elders.

Yesterday the Commonwealth observer mission hammered a similar point home. Its head, former Ghanaian president John Dramani Mahama, said there were no "unreasonable demands" ahead of elections, but then added; "And so I think it's for ZEC to listen to those complaints and where it is possible, within the law, to address those complaints. But if it takes ZEC outside the ambit of the law, I don't think it's something that ZEC can contain."

Chamisa has also become infamous for hailing obscenities against the fairer sex and his latest victim was Justice Chigumba. His foul mouth attracted the attention of other bodies and European Union (EU) Ambassador Philippe Van Damme who commented that "gender-based violence #GBV starts with abusive language and disrespect for personal integrity".

President Mnangagwa, as a tried and tested politician, held separate meetings with chiefs, church leaders, youths, students, whites and the business community as well as farmers. The President realised that for his message to be sector appropriate, he had to meet these interest groups separately to understand their needs.

What boggles the mind is that Chamisa, as learned as he purports to be, failed to properly segment his market which will be his downfall come July 30. His frustration, which is born of anger and evident political failure, does not sit well with his background as a trained pastor. Chamisa's careless talk makes him a very odd lawyer let alone an advocate.

His electoral theatrics over the past few weeks have sold him for who he really is, more than the over 60 campaign rallies he has held so far. His candidature has been made an open book from which the electorate needs to carefully study before casting their votes next Monday.

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