Reason Wafawarova on Monday
So much has been said about who will win today’s election, from “ED Pfee” to “Chamisa CheteChete”. This writer is no big fan of fanatical slogans, but I digress.
It is pleasing that Zimbabweans are full of enthusiasm and optimism from across the political divide, as people turn out today to vote for the government of their choice for the next five years.
2018 is a historical election not only because it is the first ever post independence election not featuring the iconic name of Robert Mugabe and that of Morgan Tsvangirai, but also because it is the first ever election where the democratic space given to contesting parties has compared well to the best practices the world over, especially in regards to access to the electorate.
The MDC-Alliance is clearly the second biggest political grouping after ZANU-PF; and fronted by its leader Nelson Chamisa held over 75 rallies across the country with no incident at all; no intimidation, no limited access to venues, and so on. This is obviously a departure from the politics of elections when Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai were the two main political players.
That was the era of confrontational and polarising politics, especially for Elections 2000, 2002, 2005 and 2008. We must never ever return to that sad chapter of our history.
Under ED Mnangagwa ZANU-PF has reformed into a mature, tolerant, peaceful and law abiding political outfit. The same cannot be said about Nelson Chamisa’s faction of the MDC-T, or about the MDC-Alliance outfit that he leads. It would appear like Nelson Chamisa has mistaken ZANU-PF’s peacefulness for confrontability, its tolerance for docility, and its maturity for vulnerability. The young man seems to believe he can slander ZANU-PF into oblivion. Huge mistake.
While ED Mnangagwa’s rallies have centred on developmental policy, Nelson Chamisa’s campaign has largely been a slander crusade against the person of ED Mnangagwa, blaming him for his age, deriding him for alleged incompetence, corruption, and blaming him for all of Mugabe’s acts of commission or omission.
In short, the MDC-Alliance simply could and cannot not engage ZANU-PF on matters of governance and policy, choosing to go on the path of confrontation and slander.
The hope during the pre-election campaign was to try and tune the electorate into the mode of protest politics, hoping to brew the prospect of a protest vote. Another huge mistake, as today’s election will prove.
Where in the past the MDC-T under Tsvangirai protested for freedoms, rights and fair democratic space, the MDC-Alliance could not realistically complain about any of these under ED Mnangagwa’s Government. So the mantra became Mugabe’s 37 years of rule, blaming Mnangagwa for it, and accusing him of perpetuating Mugabe’s rule.
The problem for the MDC-Alliance is that the people of Zimbabwe know that if it were not for Mnangagwa, Mugabe would still be the president of Zimbabwe, and they know that the man cannot perpetuate that which he ended. Simply put the MDC in all its formations collectively and dismally failed to remove Mugabe from the presidency. ZANU-PF did, fronted by ED Mnangagwa.
The fact that Mugabe has chosen to use his downfall to endorse and join the MDC-Alliance does not really help Nelson Chamisa’s cause, much as he brags so much for having secured the vote of the country’s founding Prime Minister.
Chamisa took over power from a bed-ridden Morgan Tsvangirai claiming to be heading a generational consensus, and also claiming that his bidding was of a divine nature, and that God is in it. It is hard to know if God is in it or not; but it is not too hard to see that Bob is in it, certainly for worse.
It must be given to Nelson Chamisa that he reinvigorated a thoroughly fatigued political outfit that had totally lost hope in a tired and ailing Morgan Tsvangirai — so wearied by years of playing second fiddle to the shrewd and ruthless Robert Mugabe.
However, Nelson Chamisa quickly arrived before the destination. He is a clearly excitable character that sees electoral victories everywhere there are crowds. It does not appear like Nelson Chamisa understands the difference between an election run and a campaign trail. A gathering at a rally is as good as a sole candidate voting procession for Chamisa. He deludes himself into believing that all voting Zimbabweans are his.
Those that attend Nelson Chamisa’s rallies get elevated to be representatives of the national sentiment; they suddenly become the only voters the country can count on for the election.
Shouldn’t we marvel at the wonders of technology and social media? Jesus Christ had no multitudes, feeding five thousand here and preaching a sermon to this or that crowd. Nelson has real crowds, or so the i-Phone images will tell us.
He goes to Jerera Growth Point and we are told all of Zaka gathered in the form of 4 000 people only; he goes to Mhandamabwe and we are told all Chivi gathered to hear “the President,” yet all there is are no more than a couple of thousands of people.
So excited and carried away has Nelson Chamisa become that he genuinely believes it is impossible for him to lose today’s election; simply on the basis of how excited he became when he crisscrossed the country doing his comedy rallies.
He does not agree that 75 rallies do not necessarily translate into a majority vote; or rather he believes that 75 rallies are good enough to make ED Mnangagwa his runner-up at only 5 percent of the vote. Even as mere political banter this claim does not even rise to the level of nonsense.
Nelson Chamisa believes he is winning this election today, and he must be forgiven for this illusion. He is a victim of popular myths that have no basis.
There are several myths that support this direction of thought. But these myths are hopelessly baseless and misleading.
The first myth is the belief that the majority of Zimbabweans are disenfranchised with ZANU-PF, the belief that the majority of Zimbabweans now want anything, but ZANU-PF.
If anything ZANU-PF is not only rediscovering itself, but is also reforming itself into the party of the future, making massive inroads into the generation that Chamisa mistakenly pretends to monopolise.
ZANU-PF is a growing party, not a dying party; it is an expanding entity, not a shrinking political outfit. It is a party of the future, ready to transform into a post-liberation democratic party driven by the legacy of the liberation struggle.
The second myth is the belief that Dr Joice Mujuru and Robert Mugabe demised with followers from ZANU-PF. The NPP and the NPF are coming out of today’s election empty handed — without even a single council seat. There are no two ways about that. These political outfits spawned from ZANU-PF without following, save for that of the respective leaders.
The only reason Robert Mugabe and his sorry excuse for a wife are now part of the MDC-Alliance is there are no followers in the NPF — itself formed after the realisation that re-energising Mai Muuru’s NPP was going to be a waste of the old man’s not so precious time. Mai Mujuru was summoned first by the bitter former president, then was Ambrose Mutinhiri, before he was dumped for the excitable Chamisa.
The third myth is that ED Mnangagwa is unelectable — a myth created, promoted and crusaded by Jonathan Moyo and Patrick Zhuwao; themselves dismal losers in the 2013 election. ED Mnangagwa is not more electable than the party that fielded him as a presidential candidate. That party has been electable since 1980, and will be electable today; as people will once again choose it as its next governing party for the next five years.
The fourth myth that is misleading Nelson Chamisa is the harebrained claim that says there is generational consensus that agrees “Chamisa chetechete”.
While there are young people that have vociferously chanted “Chamisa chetechete” in excitement; there has been equally opposing vociferous chanting of “Chamisa kwetekwete”.
Chamisa may have oratory skills impressive to his followers, but he has hardly impressed anyone on matters of maturity or integrity. His addresses compare well with comedy shows of amateur comedians like Kapfupi. He cheaply lies with reckless abandon, he makes unrealistic promises, he cracks jokes that are in bad taste, and he does not take seriousness as a virtue at all.
The fifth myth that will make Nelson Chamisa the world’s most miserable man today is a myth that has made him to believe his own lies – the myth that says MDC has crowds big enough to win a majority vote in Zimbabwe. This election will answer Chamisa in the rudest of ways. It will be an awakening of misery.
ZANU-PF has members, not only crowds. The difference between ZANU-PF and the MDC is that ZANU-PF has members and the MDC Alliance has supporters. A rally crowd for ZANU-PF is a crowd of members – all registered to vote and ready to stand with the party. Chamisa’s crowds are largely spectators gathered for political entertainment – with the majority of them either unregistered to vote, or uninterested to bother voting. They gather but they don’t belong. That has always been the problem since the days of Tsvangirai.
Even ZANU-PF supporters have attended Chamisa’s rallies out of curiosity or just mischief; and if spotted Chamisa has bragged that they are crossing the floor. That is a massive mistake. Crowds at a political rally addressed by a leader whose only assert is unbridled ambition must not be mistaken for an expression for a massive vote.
The last myth is the baseless belief that says everyone wishes or wants to protest against ZANU-PF, especially on the basis that the party has been in power for 38 years.
It is 40 years for the MPLA in Angola, 43 years for FRELIMO in Mozambique, 57 years for Chama Cha Mapinduzi in Tanzania, and yet the people in those countries are not protesting against these long ruling liberation movements.
The truth is that the protest of an opposition party to the continued stay of a ruling party must not always be mistaken for national sentiment. ZANU-PF has more supporters than those protesting against it, and today is the day this point will be proven right. People across the country are queuing up not to protest against ZANU-PF, but to choose a capable leadership for the country.
Reader as you read this piece, wherever you are, in a voting queue, after casting your vote, or on your way to the polling station, the inescapable truth is that ZANU-PF is winning today’s election.
This is not because of manipulation or any form of shortcut, but because the contestants totally misled themselves right into election day today. If ZANU-PF rigs elections its rigging magic is essentially the people of Zimbabwe. They freely and willingly keep voting for the party.
Let us vote peacefully and remember that after this election is done and dusted we will embrace each other as Zimbabweans and start a new five-year journey in rebuilding our country towards prosperity; after which we will once again queue again to give a new mandate to a government of our choice in 2023.
Zimbabwe we are one and together we will overcome. It is homeland or death!
· Reason Wafawarova is a political writer based in Sydney, Australia.