Zimbabwe: Odinga Is a Bad Mentor Chamisa

Photo: The Herald
President Emmerson Mnangagwa (file photo).
6 August 2018
editorial

President Emmerson Mnangagwa revealed recently that he had been communicating with opposition MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to defuse the political tension in the country. We are not aware whether there has been a direct response from a man who has consistently vowed that if Zimbabweans don't elect him president he will appoint himself.

Zimbabweans did not elect him.

In his first Press conference after his victory in the July 30 presidential election on Friday, President-elect Mnangagwa was once again magnanimous, declaring that despite losing, Chamisa had a crucial role to play now and in the future of Zimbabwe.

By all accounts, this overture has been spurned. Chamisa insists that he won. He has not produced evidence of how he was cheated.

We commend President Mnangagwa for adopting the conciliatory approach he has chosen towards Chamisa. Hoping it will not be taken for weakness, or lack of confidence in his own victory.

We raise this point because we know the man Mnangagwa is dealing with. Chamisa did not deserve to win this election: he came across as too arrogant, pompous, immature, dangerously dictatorial, disrespectful and contemptuous of the law.

During the electoral campaign he projected himself as everything a presidential candidate should not be -- someone who wants to get his way regardless of the law or the wishes of the majority.

You don't want to vote for a leader who will twist the law to suit his wishes. You don't want to vote for a presidential contestant who declares himself the winner well before election results are out and in wilful disregard of the law, a leader who incites public violence by his supporters without regard to public safety and scurries for cover while hooligans run amok attacking pedestrians, burning vehicles, destroying shops and generally creating mayhem.

Following the violence he instigated which led to the death of six people on Wednesday last week, instead of showing remorse Chamisa blamed his main political rival, President Mnangagwa and his party supporters.

It is easy with the benefit of hindsight and point scoring to accuse the police and army for using excessive force. This allows the chief instigator of the mayhem to get away with murder, to hide his real motives in the right of Zimbabweans to demonstrate.

But that doesn't tell us how much force was required in that spur of the moment to restore order in Harare and to stop the lawlessness from spreading far beyond the capital? Police were already overwhelmed.

President Mnangagwa has overlooked Chamisa's childish gamesmanship by calling him again for a parley, with his mind on the future of the nation than personal power. He has humbled himself, not for fear of what Chamisa can do, but the harm his reckless utterances can cause the nation.

We find it critical to raise the matter of Chamisa's immaturity and objectionable behaviour because it is not the first time they are on display. President Mnangagwa extended a similar invitation earlier this year to meet leaders of opposition political parties. Chamisa was the first to turn down the invitation, claiming he was too "special" to be lumped together with everyone.

Recently when he was reminded by an interviewer that there were 22 other presidential candidates, he retorted that he only knew of President Mnangagwa. We expect a leader to be humble, respectful of competitors and the free choices fellow citizens make. He can't be the alpha and omega of political wisdom.

President-elect Mnangagwa has once again shown magnanimity by extending an olive branch to Chamisa for the sake of national development, to end the suffering of Zimbabwe caused by sanctions Chamisa and his party invited on the country.

This is the heavy yoke President Mnangagwa sought to lift from the neck of Zimbabwe by insisting on free, fair, peaceful, transparent and credible elections.

All these efforts were sabotaged at the last minute, through well-timed acts of violence, after the MDC-Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa had already lost the National Assembly vote by an embarrassing margin. Fortunately, the violence couldn't stop the release of the presidential election results, which it was obvious Chamisa had lost.

We expected Chamisa to be an exemplary democrat by conceding defeat. That way he would have earned himself the respect of decent people to vote for him next time. But he seems to prefer the rogue route of Kenya's Raila Odinga.

What a choice for a political mentor, especially for one so young!

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