A tale of two presidential candidates
As the country gears for the August 23 harmonised elections, the electorate has the opportunity to scrutinise and analyse leadership qualities of the two main presidential election candidates to elect someone with a vision to make the country great again.
It is not a secret that the main two presidential candidates whom the electorate would be choosing between are the current Zimbabwean leader, President Mnangagwa, who is also Zanu PF Presidential candidate and Nelson Chamisa, an opposition political leader of CCC, who is also its presidential candidate.
For the past few months, Zimbabweans have witnessed the two main political parties in the country going through two different processes to come up with their candidates who will represent their parties in presidential, parliamentary and local authority elections.
This was the time that people witnessed how the two leaders ran their internal elections and selection processes to come up with their candidates. The difference in two leaders can easily be seen from this process.
Zanu PF used a more democratic way of candidate selection. It employed the secret ballot to choose its candidates while CCC used what it termed the citizens consensus candidate nomination process which culminated in the discredited “bereka mwana” concept.
This involves party members physically standing behind their preferred candidates and be counted. This method is intimidating, desecrates privacy and runs counter to the sacrosanct principle of democracy.
To start with, Zanu PF held a Congress in October 2022, which endorsed President Mnangagwa as the 2023 presidential candidate for that party.
On the other hand, Nelson Chamisa’s CCC held no congress as it has no constitution to guide the holding of such internal processes.
Consequently, only Chamisa was mysteriously said to have been unanimously chosen as his party’s presidential candidate for CCC. Some people claimed that Chamisa avoided a congress as he feared serious challenges from his deputies Professor Welshman Ncube and lawyer, Tendai Biti.
Chamisa’s failure to hold a congress kept people guessing on what really CCC wanted.
He called this patent confusion strategic ambiguity, but the finger-pointing and high cases of candidate imposition in the party demonstrate that there was nothing strategic about it.
Zanu PF was, however, not perturbed by CCC’s failure to hold a congress and carried on with its project of selecting popular and suitable candidates to represent the party in the coming elections.
President Mnangagwa made it clear that the people should select their preferred candidates during primary elections through a secret ballot system thereby avoiding imposition of contestants.
The transparency and democratic beauty of the process was clear and some legislators lost during the primary elections.
On the contrary, Nelson Chamisa ordered CCC supporters to choose their candidates through a candidate nomination process.
The process meant people were only coming up with their preferred candidates then agree on who to be picked without secret ballot involved.
Where there was no consensus then the “bereka mwana” concept came into force.
This concept, which was dropped by Zanu PF long ago as it was viewed as counterproductive and archaic, was revived by Chamisa to deal with situations where candidates like Biti whom he wanted out of the election and the party.
That move proved that Chamisa is moving backwards instead of going forward. The “bereka mwana” concept is synonymous with imposition of candidates as some people fail to choose their preferred candidates fearing victimisation after elections.
Some people argued that the candidate nomination process and “bereka mwana” concept was a Chamisa ploy to manipulate some people within CCC to select his preferred candidates leaving out those that he thought posed a threat to his throne.
When the final CCC candidates list was made available, it was confirmed that Chamisa had managed to side-line all those whom he did not like to contest in the elections.
People like Harare Central legislator, Murisi Zwizwai, Kambuzuma legislator, Willias Madzimure, Budiriro legislator, Costa Machingauta, Warren Park member of Parliament, Shakespeare Hamauswa and many others were, therefore, left out.
While President Mnangagwa made sure that Zanu PF candidates were chosen by the people through a secret ballot to ensure transparency, Nelson Chamisa’s introduced the out-dated and undemocratic “bereka mwana” concept to ensure that he is surrounded by his own preferred candidates and not politicians who are popular with grassroots members.
This concept claimed the scalps of senior party members like Biti who was defeated by Harare North legislator, Allan Markham in Harare East constituency. This concept disadvantaged Biti as most of those who voted for Mr Markham are his workers. It was going to be difficult for them to stand behind Biti as they feared for their work.
The CCC leader made sure the concept carried the day in Harare East as he knew that obviously Markham would get more votes from his workers than Mr Biti.
For Chamisa, getting rid of Biti was his main focus as he has always viewed him as a threat to his throne.
It should be remembered that one of the main reasons that Chamisa refused to hold a congress was that he feared that Biti and Prof Ncube could challenge him for the party’s leadership position.
The move to force Markham on Harare East was a well-calculated strategy to destroy Biti’s political career.
Biti has been viewed as a threat to Nelson Chamisa as the international community has soft spot for the former.
Chamisa fears that if Biti remains in the political limelight, his own political standing would always be under threat.
Leaving behind weak candidates and removing strong personalities like Biti within CCC means Chamisa will remain the centre of power in the opposition outfit.
Chamisa’s view last week that those who failed to be selected as candidates to represent CCC in the elections would be deployed in other areas of Government is a mischievous claim.
Who told him that CCC will form the next Government in Zimbabwe? Actually, Chamisa’s view is a mismatch of the reality on the ground as the secret ballot is different from his internal election concept.
While President Mnangagwa allowed Zanu PF members to elect diverse candidates from all backgrounds, on the other hand Nelson Chamisa made sure that educated and vibrant candidates are side-lined. He made sure that the CCC candidate list has people who are prone to be manipulated and directed on what to say like a blinkered horse in a race.
Chamisa has shown is hand and demonstrated his poor political leadership pedigree. The electorate should choose between the two leaders. This time around, everyone will use the secret ballot process and Chamisa will not be able to bereka mwana to force the electorate to vote for him.