Not so sexy after all, Chamisa and the MDC Alliance

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By Seewell Mashizha

THE tragedy of the MDC Alliance in toto is its narcissistic stance. The party’s mirror suggests that it is rich and handsome. Rich in numbers and handsome to behold.  For some reason, the fabled numbers appear to have been a chimera. And while there was something attractive in the punchline, “Behold the new”, regrettably there really wasn’t anything new to behold. Job Sikhala and Tendai Biti are certainly not new. Chamisa will soon discover that the two men have other agendas.

Chamisa was also his own worst enemy as was shown on a number of occasions. His unedited pronouncements did not always stand him in good stead. You have to be totally smitten not to have asked how anyone could say, “If I do not win, the election will have been rigged”. Any historian or analyst worth his salt will tell you that whenever there is just one single narrative being touted you had better show the situation a clean pair of heels.

According to Greek mythology, Narcissus fell in love with his own image as reflected in the waters of a spring. Pining away became his fate and a narcissus flower sprang where he fell. This analogy is appropriate when referring to the MDC in all its variations and expressions. The starting point was always that the MDC was “the people’s party”, the “party of excellence” and so on and so forth ad infinitum.

The party became so intoxicated with the “beauty” of its own reflection that it indulged itself more and more in terms of the hyperbolic epithets it reserved for itself. But, in fact, all that the party was doing was to err by thinking that its inordinate desire for power and prominence was the same as actual attainment of the same.

This time around, the rose-tinted glasses were off and many previous admirers and proxy organisations like the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) began to tell it as it is. Take for instance, the matter of how the advent of the BVR in Zimbabwe brought with it certain new realities and imperatives. In that process the antithesis between ZANU-PF and, in recent cases, the MDC Alliance in terms of preparedness and strategy became evident.

At some point early in the year, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) observed that there was an unusually higher concentration of registered voters in ZANU- PF’s traditional strongholds in the Midlands, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Manicaland. By comparison this phenomenon was absent in what have traditionally become opposition MDC formation strongholds.

Walking around the streets with my ear to the ground in recent times I overheard MDC Alliance youths bemoaning the fact that they knew many people that the MD Alliance was counting on who had not voted and who, in fact, were not registered to vote in the 2018 harmonised elections.

Not everyone who filled the stadiums and shouted, “Chisa Mbama Chisa” was a registered voter, they said. While a proper survey may have to be done to establish the truth, one cannot escape wondering where the sea of red at the Chamisa rallies went to. The obvious answer to this is that Harare is not Zimbabwe.

Furthermore, the ideal situation would be one in which the numbers attending a rally would have come from areas in which there is a strong base and presence for the party in question. In such a case they would have come to the rally representing those left at home. Such a scenario would translate into tangible votes.

Need we then have been surprised when the results started coming in? The results, with hardly any exception, testify to a yawning gap between ZANU-PF and the MDC Alliance whenever ZANU-PF took a constituency. This is why it sounds ridiculous to suggest that ZANU-PF would try rigging Uzumba-Maramba-Pfungwe where since the days of Kenneth Mutiwekuziva the number of votes cast for ZANU-PF were always very high. Too many people have tended to be taken in by fake news items written as eye-witness accounts. Nerorrists excelled in this respect but to no avail.

After ZESN had aggregated the biometric voter registration (BVR) statistics, it became clear that the voter registration turnout was significantly more elevated in the rural areas. By contrast, Bulawayo, Matabeleland North and South, considered to be opposition strongholds, recorded the least numbers.

ZESN also analysed the data of the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC). Its analysis revealed that Epworth and Harare South had unusually high voter registration turnouts respectively. This obviously points to high levels of mobilisation. The dividends of the mobilisation are what ZANU-PF has reaped in the just-ended plebiscite.

Goromonzi South has 65 539 registered voters, Epworth (63 961), Dangamvura-Chikanga (58 000) and Harare South (60 270) constituencies.

Epworth, Goromonzi South, Harare South and Chikanga-Dangamvura are currently held by Zanu PF legislators and populated by mostly resettled farmers and illegal settlers. Increased numbers of registered voters there will always mean a strong ZANU-PF presence.

Many analysts agree that the fight for electoral victory was always going to have to be in the ZANU-PF strongholds of the Midlands, Manicaland, Mashonaland West, Mashonaland East and Masvingo. These provinces are home to 717 510, 66 943, 66 943, 66 943, 585 198 and 583 599 respectively. These figures constitute over 60% of the country’s registered voters.

The number of registered voters in Bulawayo is only 211 276. In the absence of a swing or protest vote, ZANU-PF will always carry the day. Opposition parties therefore have their work cut out and should begin to work at things now for the 2023 elections. Their struggle might be a lot more difficult by then, given that ED’s programmes may have borne fruit in the interim.

According to ZESN, the projected adult population of Harare is 1, 3 million [1 345 818]. Yet, despite all this, the city had fewer than 800 000, registered voters in this year’s plebiscite. This is an indictment against Chamisa and the MDC Alliance. They obviously became too comfortable and took a lot of things for granted.

Another interesting thing to note is the fact that according to what were ZEC’s provisional BVR statistics, a substantial proportion of adult Zimbabweans 2 039 056 did not register in the BVR blitz. Looked at with greater scrutiny, this astounding figure of non-registered adult voters makes nonsense of the so-called generational consensus.

The new youthful voters appear not to have been as gullible as the MDC Alliance assumed they would be. They voted for continuity and legacy. They are on the whole proud Zimbabweans. That is the only way to explain the no-effect impact of the over 2 million unregistered adult voters.

Concrete facts and figures such as those advanced herein point to the fact that it was always going to be an uphill struggle for opposition parties to fell ZANU-PF and knock it off its perch of prominence. The blundering Chamisa and the MDC Alliance often made it easier for ZANU-PF to win in situations where the Alliance ought to have been victorious. Take Goromonzi West, for example, where Energy Mutodi made his way to Parliament on a ZANU-PF ticket. Had there not been a split, the combined figures of the MDC-T and the MDC Alliance would have been higher than Mutodi’s score. There were several other such cases in other constituencies. The blame must be laid at the feet of Chamisa and his cronies.

After the dust settles we might find that in the run-up to the 2018 elections, Chamisa had alienated numbers of potential supporters who could have voted for him. His penchant for tall tales, violence and sexism cannot have endeared him to the vast majority of thinking women. Sycophantic and mute gender activists did not fool such women.

For Chamisa to have indulged himself at an MDC Alliance rally with an aside about how he met his wife was a stroke of genius. Everyone loves a good story with a happy-ever-after ending. But Wamba spoiled it all by making reference to Learnmore Jongwe, a wife-killer.

The eleven grievances of the MDC Alliance were a ploy for something else. Its shrill voice against ZEC was no more than just a way of making enough noise to stay in the news. It was all a campaign strategy given the Alliance’s paucity of resources.

Chamisa’s campaign trail is littered with fiction, exaggeration and misrepresentation. His paternalistic attitude towards Zimbabweans cost him dearly. When it came to the crunch the electorate did not find him so sexy after all, least of all his faction of the MDC-T.

Chamisa owes and apology to the thousands of teachers who manned the polling stations. Never have they ever doctored any of the results. To do so would see them hauled before disciplinary hearings, a thing that might even lead to the loss of employment.

Mr. Chamisa, either provide irrefutable evidence of rigging or concede defeat before resigning as you promised to do if you lost the election.