MDC Alliance presidential candidate Nelson Chamisa is the only political leader with a realistic chance of ending military rule in Zimbabwe, former Cabinet minister and respected lawyer David Coltart has said.
Coltart who along with former Finance minister Tendai Biti accompanied Chamisa in his recent trip to London, however, admitted the young MDC-T leader has, like all humans, his flaws.
“Notwithstanding these human flaws and the quality of some of the other presidential candidates, Chamisa is the only competent person who realistically stands between on-going de facto military rule and a new dawn for Zimbabwe.
“Everything else is simply pie in the sky. That is the harsh reality all those who dream of a new vibrant, tolerant and free Zimbabwe need to confront,” Coltart said in his website.
With Chamisa now fielding trick-bats over his “shambolic” display during an interview on the BBC’s HardTalk program, Coltart said the abuse targeted at the Kuwadzana East lawmaker shows he is a threat to the establishment.
“The amount of abuse being directed his way shows how much of a threat he poses to a de facto military regime which has a long and bloody history of murdering, torturing and brutalising its opponents.
“Despite all of this he is bravely campaigning and at the core of his message is non-violence. He is the only leader campaigning country wide at present drawing thousands of people to his rallies in both rural and urban areas,” said Coltart.
“Of course Nelson Chamisa has faults. All of us do. Of course he has made mistakes in some of his pronouncements – all of us have done so in our own political careers. None of (us) is perfect – but at this moment in our history we cannot let perfection be the enemy of the good.”
Chamisa, Coltart said, was a “fast leaner”.
According to Coltart, Chamisa met senior British officials among them Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Africa Minister Harriet Baldwin, the Labour Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry, senior MPs including Kate Hoey, Sir Henry Bellingham and Andrew Mitchell, as well as journalists from leading media houses. The former Education minister said the hastily arranged trip had been funded on a shoe-string budget and was highly successful.
“For a trip which was pulled together at short notice and financed on a shoe string budget it was a resounding success. Unlike Zanu PF delegations which draw on all of the resources of the State (and in some respects international institutions) this trip was funded solely on the generosity of individual Zimbabweans,” he said.
While attention after the trip had centred on Chamisa’s gaffes, Coltart said the delegation had highlighted the flaws in the country’s electoral system including the military hand.
“Our message was simple – we like all Zimbabweans want our nation to prosper. But for it to prosper our Constitution must be respected in letter and spirit.
“We pointed out that there was gulf between the rhetoric of the Mnangagwa administration and action on the ground. We explained that for all the statements of commitment to a ‘free, fair and credible election’ the reality is that less than three months from the election ZEC (the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) remains a biased, militarised institution,” Coltart said.
“Furthermore the opaque process for the printing of the ballots using same tricks as 2013, the deployment of troops in rural areas, subtlety intimidating the electorate and the on-going use of the ZBC, Herald and Chronicle as propaganda vehicles (in brazen defiance of clear Constitutional obligations) all show that this regime is not committed to a fair election.”
An MDC Alliance government according to Coltart would tackle corruption, stick to the rule of law and provide tenure for land.
“Unlike Zanu PF which speaks of giving farmers 99 year leases, but does not do so in any way which gives farmers real security, we will grant bankable title to all farmers.
“Unlike Zanu PF which continues to spend money it doesn’t have, we will be responsible with the national purse and protect peoples’ savings, investments and bank deposits,” the human rights lawyer said adding Chamisa and his group had noted the opposition’s positive effect on government during the GNU between 2009-2013.
“We reminded our hosts that between 2009 and 2013 the economy grew, that people did have confidence in the banking system, that bank deposits grew, that people could get money out of banks, that schools did reopen, that hospitals did have drugs, that Zimbabweans did start to return home, and that a new Constitution was written and agreed to by millions of Zimbabweans.”
Coltart added the opposition delegation “never at any point spoke about the need for sanctions.”