Chamisa has never been serious Nelson Chamisa

Nobleman Runyanga


On Monday last week, principals of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) met at the Ministry of Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs offices in Harare to deliberate on electoral reforms. This was the second time in a fortnight that they were meeting on account of the same matter. 

This must have hurt MDC Alliance faction leader Nelson Chamisa, who has snubbed the platform insisting on a one-on-one meeting with President Mnangagwa in the presence of what he termed “a credible convener and mediator.” 

These two events have demonstrated President Mnangagwa’s commitment for electoral reforms. They have also brought home the point that Chamisa has to learn to live with the reality that with or without him, Zimbabwe and the world are moving unstoppably on. Chamisa has, however, never been serious about participating in national dialogue to chart the course of Zimbabwe following the end of the previous administration in 2017. 

When President Mnangagwa was inaugurated on November 24 2017, he extended open arms to Chamisa so that the latter could participate in the rebuilding of this great country, but he childishly rebuffed it. 

Commenting on the outcome of Chamisa’s election petition, which was heard by the Constitutional Court on August 24 2018, the President once again publicly invited Chamisa to work with him for the good of Zimbabwe, but the opposition leader again snubbed the invitation. 

“I once again reiterate my call for peace and unity above all. Nelson Chamisa, my door is open and my arms are outstretched, we are one nation, and we must put our nation first. Let us all now put our differences behind us. It is time to move forward together,” the President said. 

Two days later, during his inauguration speech, the President, undaunted by Chamisa’s political immaturity, once again invited Chamisa to join him in working for Zimbabweans, but the latter, as usual, refused. 

The President said “my door is open and my arms are outstretched.”

The President went ahead with his initiative of bringing together all the 2018 presidential election losing candidates so that they could participate in the governance of their country as representatives of their parties’ supporters and citizens under the POLAD umbrella. 

Again, Chamisa doggedly refused to participate in the initiative. “I have invited the leaders of all political parties to come together, without preconditions, to begin a process of national dialogue. Let us all put the people first and politics second,” the President said in February 2019. 

Even in the face of irritating and unjustified political tantrum-throwing by Chamisa, the President continued to extend the olive branch to the opposition figure. During his State of the Nation address in October 2019, the President said: “I am happy with the progress being made under the ongoing Political Parties Dialogue and stand ready to welcome all political parties who contested in the 2018 harmonised elections, and are yet to be part of this forum.” 

It is clear that if Chamisa’s politics was about Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans, he would have joined President Mnangagwa under POLAD, the same way that former Vice President, the late Dr Joshua Nkomo joined hands with former President, the late Robert Mugabe in December 1987, to find a lasting solution to the Gukurahundi disturbances in the Matabeleland region and the Midlands Province.  He could have followed his predecessor, the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s example. In 2008, following disagreements over the presidential election results of that year, Tsvangirai put the nation before his personal interests and joined hands with former President Mugabe to form a Government of National Unity (GNU). This enabled the country to move forward in unity.

Despite President Mnangagwa’s efforts, Chamisa made a fool of and exposed himself during an interview with Newzroom Afrika television network of South Africa in January 2020.  Despite the President’s several invitations, he gave the impression that President Mnangagwa was the one who was making it difficult for him to join POLAD. He initially said that “I have never tried to call him”, but seconds later he had tripped on his own lies and ended up claiming that the President was “always not available” and “hardly in the country.” 

Within seconds he had moved from “I have never tried to call him,” to “I’ve tried him, he’s always not available” to “his  phone is not available.” His interviewer could not help it. He let out guffaws of laughter at such barefaced lies. 

It is clear that Chamisa’s position is driven by self-preservation. He has been driving politics of sabotage (jecha) to spite President Mnangagwa and ZANU PF to appease his supporters whom he failed by losing the July 30, 2018 election. He has sought to buttress this by pushing the baseless illegitimacy narrative against the President in the vain hope of keeping in good books with his faction’s Western owners, handlers and funders after disappointing them by failing to dislodge ZANU PF from power despite their high hopes. 

Chamisa has no concrete and sound reasons to snub POLAD.  Realising that he does not have sufficient political mettle to win an election given his party’s chequered political record especially in the urban areas, he has sought to use dialogue to secure another GNU to accommodate himself in Government using the back door. 

Speaking at one of his faction’s meetings in 2019, he inadvertently let out of the bag, by revealing the fact that his continued rejection of POLAD is not about Zimbabwe and Zimbabweans, but about his insatiable greed for undeserved political power. It is about gaining State power, which the electorate denied him in the polling booth on 30 July 2018. 

Addressing his supporters, Chamisa indicated that his idea of any dialogue should include a transitional mechanism that would see Zimbabwe’s Presidency alternating between him and President Mnangagwa. He proposed that, “VaMnangagwa kana muchigona mombondipawo ndorova two years, imi morovawo two years tichifamba takadaro.” 

Chamisa seems to conveniently forget that Zimbabwe does not have a disputed election as was the case in 2008. His poll theft claims were fully and conclusively addressed by the Constitutional Court on 24 August 2018, when he failed to adduce irrefutable evidence to support his claim. 

Chamisa and his faction have also sought to use any possible dialogue involving him under POLAD to settle scores with leaders of other MDC formations such as the Douglas Mwonzora-led MDC-T. 

When the internal ructions with the MDC formations reached a head in February this year, one of Chamisa’s deputies, Tendai Biti told the media that his faction was ready for dialogue with ZANU PF. “We are prepared to talk to them without any conditionality, we haven’t said (President) Emmerson Mnangagwa must cease to be President before we talk to him, we haven’t said that, but having said that, no one can seduce us to accept a lie and accept processes that were against our Constitution,” he said. 

It, however, become clear later that the issue was more about the faction’s fight with Mwonzora than about the people of Zimbabwe. He said that the MDC Alliance was prepared to engage with ZANU PF in talks which should exclude Mwonzora. 

“Mwonzora is a creation of ZANU PF, so why should we talk to him? It’s better to talk directly with the power behind him,” Biti said. In other words, Chamisa and his faction do not view any national dialogue seriously for as long as it doesn’t fit within their objective of getting State power. They support or spurn it depending on their prevailing circumstances of the day. 

The fact that POLAD principals are forging ahead with deliberations on various issues that include electoral elections, should be instructive to Chamisa and other like-minded citizens. 

The country will move on with or without them. Zimbabwe’s political system does not recognise self-styled and self-imposed special species of the opposition such as the one that Chamisa and company are trying to create out of their faction. Zimbabwe does not have special opposition or special politicians.

Elections are around the corner and they will only have themselves to blame because they wilfully and misguidedly barred themselves from contributing towards the ongoing electoral reforms discourse by refusing to join the POLAD platform. 

They will also be blamed by their supporters for squandering the golden opportunity they had to have their own input into the deliberations on electoral reforms, which the opposition faction confuses with an election strategy.

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