Small things and wisdom
He who cannot be trusted with little things cannot be trusted with big ones. This is to paraphrase one of the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. The bigger the matter, the bigger the responsibility, and so too the risk.
Another from the Old Testament laments that for lack of wisdom or knowledge, my people perish. These are familiar scriptures for a nation which professes to be Christian. The two verses complement each other — the Old Testament and the New Testament — just like in life human generations must complement each other. (Not generational consensus, or is it conspiracy against others!)
Our people know, or are wise enough to know, that he who cannot be trusted with little things cannot be trusted with bigger ones, worse, matters of the state, matters of national survival and matters of personal freedom and democracy for all. These are not matters for wild experimentation, there may be no maziva ndadzoka.
On Monday Zimbabwe is being asked to make a decision on the fate of the nation. Wisdom is required. The outcome will affect everyone, whether we cut our nose to spite the face, or we allow wisdom to guide us make the decision. It’s the fate of the nation at stake, not that of a political party. There are so many of them. Zimbabwe is only one.
Chamisa seizes MDC-T
Let’s cut to the chase.
By own volition, Nelson Chamisa came to power in the MDC-T in February this year, by shredding the opposition party’s constitution. It caused anguish in the party. It didn’t mean much to the rest of the nation. It was small; it was an internal affair. If anything, most senior and serious Zimbabweans were shocked by the brazenness with which Chamisa disrespected the late founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai whose blood was not yet dry in his veins. Chamisa felt the blood was taking too long to dry. Something shockingly uncultural for someone born and bred in an African village. But that’s who he is.
Question is: if Chamisa cannot be trusted with something as small as a party constitution, can he be trusted with a national Constitution, that sacred document in which we all place our trust for personal and national security? If he cannot be trusted to respect the dead, can he be trusted to protect and defend our cultural values?
War with ZEC
Just this week we had Chamisa telling his supporters to stand sentinel next to polling stations after voting. The law says people must be at least 300m away. Suppose Chamisa wants to respect the law, how does a person standing 300m away monitor what’s happening inside the polling station? Why be a nuisance to achieve nothing? Otherwise his supporters would have to be closer to the polling station, this in violation of the law.
That’s far from all. The MDC-Alliance’s war with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission has all been about breaking the law on the one hand and defending it on the other. ZEC is an independent constitutional body. The MDC participated in the making of the Constitution adopted in an all-party referendum in February 2013. The MDC-T then, led by Tsvangirai, along with civic society and NGOs, pushed hard to have several independent constitutional bodies, ostensibly to whittle down the power of the Executive. Eventually there were four or five.
Now, more specifically, Chamisa was a co-chair of a panel which interviewed prospective commissioners for ZEC. He was very happy to approve of people like Justice Priscilla Chigumba and Dr Qhubani Moyo. Because of their backgrounds he must have thought they would do his party’s bidding — by rigging on the MDC’s behalf.
When he seized power in the MDC-T in February, he thought it was payback time for the two commissioners. It was time for them to ignore the law to advance his party’s cause. Now he wanted to whittle down ZEC’s mandate by having political parties getting directly involved in the designing, printing and distribution of the ballot, a role reserved exclusively for ZEC, according to the Constitution.
He was disappointed. He couldn’t hide his anger and frustration and he decided to make the work of the commission a nightmare, including organising demonstrations against ZEC chair Justice Chigumba. He declared there would be no election without his bid to break the law succeeding.
Some quarters claim his insistence that his Alliance would not boycott, but still there would be no election was based on forcing the entire commission, or at least Justice Chigumba, to resign at the last minute, hence the planned demonstrations and vigil for this week, a ploy pre-emptied by quick thinking in Government.
The ploy was calculated on Chamisa’s awareness that none of the other ZEC members is a judge of the High Court so it would be impossible for anyone to immediately step into Chigumba’s shoes.
By all reckoning, the resignation strategy is up in smoke. He must go into the election on Monday, for better or for worse. But the issue remains; if Chamisa can try to force an independent constitutional body to break the law to indulge his desires, what would stop him from doing more harm to the Constitution should he be commander-in-chief and has under his authority all the instruments of power? For if the law represents the will of the people, an individual politician can’t decide it is small. He first must persuade the people to change it.
We will announce results
Two weeks ago the same Chamisa, a whole lawyer, albeit a green one, flanked by Tendai Biti, a whole senior lawyer desperate to be part of the next Government, declared they would defy the Electoral Act and announce the results of the election. In other words they don’t want to be bound by inconvenient laws.
Imagine the anarchy to ensue if everyone followed their example. What king or president wants to lead by breaking national laws at will? To him the Constitution is an inconvenience. Such a leader is a danger to everybody, starting with those closest to him who might pose a threat to his crown, then everyone else who expresses a differing view or waves a constitution in his face.
MDC-Alliance vs Army
Let’s not forget that the MDC-Alliance leader started waging war with the army from day one as party president. The party pushed the army to declare its position vis-à-vis the election — to make a public statement declaring that it would respect the winner and allow for peaceful transition and transfer of power if he won.
His wish was granted a few weeks ago when army spokesman Colonel Overson Mugwisi told a Press conference in Harare that the security agencies had no role in politics, but would defend the Constitution and safeguard the values and ethos of the liberation.
Surprise of surprises, since then it is Chamisa himself who has consistently declared that he won’t accept or respect a result that doesn’t make him king. There are 23 Presidential candidates contesting and 55 political parties. He is the only one ‘ordained’ to win. Anybody else he has declared a fraud. Not even the Constitution or international observers will stand in his way to State House. That is the man who would be president, by sheer will to power.
The whores of Zim
The least said about his disdain for womenfolk the better. If you are a woman you can’t disagree with him in the party without him labelling you a hure. Worthy women don’t challenge patriarchy. Worthy women don’t wave the constitution at men of substance.
A few weeks ago he took his venom a notch higher. After rising to national political leadership on the back of the popular MDC-T brand Tsvangirai built over 18 years, Chamisa was so furious after a court ruled that Thokozani Khupe was the legitimate leader of the party that he told his supporters at a rally that the T in MDC-T now stood for Tsotsi or Tokoloshi. Everybody knows the T was short for Tsvangirai. Chamisa now remembers him as a tsotsi or tokoloshi. Khupe herself has been called hure several times.
This is the tragedy of Nelson Chamisa: it is all self-made.
He took over the MDC-T party when people were still mourning Morgan Tsvangirai, including President Mnangagwa who deployed State resources to help. Chamisa was fresh and relatively untainted compared to ED, the latter because of his association with Zanu-PF and former president Robert Mugabe. Yet their trajectories have gone in completely reversed directions, with Chamisa going downhill. He has spared nothing to show his single-minded lust for power, while Mnangagwa has charmed many people at home and beyond by his humility and modesty. He has tried to do everything according to the rule book, including seeking endorsement at party level. Chamisa has ridden roughshod over everything that seems to stand in his way, in the process alienating some senior members of the original MDC. ED has proved to be the quintessential nation builder and statesman — preaching peace and unity from the podium of his inauguration.
On the contrary, Chamisa sees people strictly through party lenses where everyone Zanu-PF is evil while he leads angels. It is hard to see how such a man can be trusted to build a nation. A win for him would point to a MDC Zimbabwe where Zanu-PF supporters are outcasts and enemies. This is the choice the nation must make on Monday — between a Zimbabwe fighting as one to develop and one fighting itself to serve the destiny of one man.