By UK Correspondent
ECONOMIST and ex-opposition legislator Eddie Cross has claimed that former first lady Grace Mugabe bankrolled Nelson Chamisa’s 2018 presidential campaign, an allegation dismissed as “delusional” by the latter’s spokesperson.
Cross, a biographer and close ally of Zanu PF leader and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, made the claim at a Chief Executive Officers Roundtable meeting in Harare last week, according to the weekly Independent newspaper.
Chamisa, now leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), ran Mnangagwa close in the 2018 ballot, claiming 44.3% of the presidential vote against 50.8% for the Zanu PF leader who had taken over power after the military ousting of long-time ruler and mentor Robert Mugabe.
“Mrs Mugabe financed Chamisa so that he defeats Emmerson and eventually Emmerson abandoned everything and concentrated on winning the elections, and thank God he did because if he hadn’t spent the next four or five months fighting the elections, he could have lost the election,” Cross is reported as saying.
But the claim was dismissed offhand by CCC deputy national spokesperson Gift “Ostallos” Siziba said.
“Eddie is trying by all means to be more Zanu than Zanu PF people themselves. He is a delusional man who will do anything to get a seat in the gravy train.”
Still bitter over his inglorious ousting by close allies after 37 years in power, Mugabe apparently backed Chamisa on the eve of the 2018 vote, stating that he could not vote “those who have tormented” him.
A rattled Zanu PF then claimed in campaign videos that videos that Chamisa had forged a an election pact with Mugabe which would being the veteran leader back to power.
“You either vote for Mugabe under the guise of Chamisa or you vote for a new Zimbabwe under my leadership and Zanu PF,” Mnangagwa warned in a campaign video.
Chamisa and Mnangagwa go head-to-head again in another crunch electoral showdown later this year, with the opposition claiming the Zimbabweans are worse off under Mugabe’s successor.
“We’ve jumped from the frying pan into the fire,” Chamisa said in a recent interview with the UK-based Sunday Times. “Mnangagwa is doing what Mugabe did with a lot more malevolence and maliciousness.”
The election comes amid concern over lack of progress on reforms to level the playing field as well as a crackdown against the opposition which has seen its leaders and activists being arrested.