Not so subtle, the MDC Alliance melodrama against ZEC

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By Seewell Mashizha

As the days move inexorably towards the 2018 electoral zenith and a date with destiny for more than a few, some of the voices are beginning to sound just a little too shrill. Indeed one gets the impression that some of the political competitors would want to turn back the hands of time if they could. But as we all should know, time moves in one direction only – ahead! That law of the universe is immutable. So the harmonised elections are definitely upon us, marches and invective notwithstanding.

One political belligerent who seems to think that he is on a stage from where he executes what he himself thinks are masterly performances has become quite insufferable. He seems to have become inebriated, but not with the Holy Ghost. Only with his own sense of self-importance. He is the star and lords it upon the mere mortals around him who, like the animals in Animal Farm, have been whipped into silence and compliance of a kind not too enthusiastic.

Nothing happens in that august organisation unless our boy is there. Everything is about him and the sun and the moon are all satellites of his. The winking stars pay him obeisance. That is why, according to his own narrative, he does a rehearsal of how to inspect a guard of honour every morning so as to avoid the embarrassment of his predecessor.

The forty-odd genius is trying to re-invent everything. We must therefore give him full marks for his inventiveness which however, sometimes borders on the ridiculous. They say that when anyone has to verbally assert themselves by telling people who or what they are, they have a lost. The father of a family who says, “I am the father here” is obviously falling short. Such standing ought not to be debatable. It should speak for itself.

The tiff between the MDC Alliance and ZEC derives from such issues as the printing of the ballots, their keeping and so on. ZEC takes the view that its mandate is being violated and that at law ZEC is doing as it should. As if anyone had questioned his credentials, Chamisa has responded by saying, “I am a lawyer as well and the fact that it is not provided for does not necessarily mean that it is prohibited, so she must not hide behind the law.”

One wonders why Chamisa finds it necessary to make such inane observations. It must be that he has a rather inflated sense of his own intellect and legal prowess. When it comes to the practice of law, and compared to Justice Priscilla Chigumba, Chamisa is a novice, his choosing to be an advocate notwithstanding. Yet he runs at the mouth, regardless.

These days Chamisa hangs to every word that Jonathan Moyo utters from outside the country. All the venom that used to have for the erudite professor has like dew dissipated into nothing. Moyo started a rumour about an elaborate plot, through which the ruling party is colluding with ZEC to rig the July 30 harmonized elections using hired foreign cyber experts. It matters little that the discredited professor has provided no evidence whatsoever. That is something he shares with the MDC formations – unsubstantiated claims of rigging at each and every election. Chamisa and his lot have swallowed Moyo’s teaser hook, line and sinker.

The self-serving fiction about Russians lurking in the shadows has become the rallying call for the marches that the Alliance seems to have acquired a voracious taste for. Hyperbolically grandstanding as usual, a puffed-up Chamisa told the marchers, “Next week will be decisive and when I say come, then you must respond. If we don’t agree, we will go a gear up and it is not good for Mnangagwa. He will quit putting on that scarf. I warned Mnangagwa that he is authoring instability by stealing an election. It invites trouble if we don’t agree.” Chamisa’s audiences are blessed with school-boyish gibberish – frequent doses of what Stephen Sackur on Hard Talk called silly.

Referring to the next round of MDC Alliance demonstrations, Chamisa, ebullient as ever, sensationally said, “This is the last demonstration we are going to do and go back home, the next round we will not go back home, we will sleep there, it is going to be a national demonstration. All villages will be closed.”

It is not clear how the Alliance intends to close “all villages” considering their not so phenomenal rallies in most of the countryside. Typical of their wilful self-delusion, the party refuses to see what everyone else sees – that they are unlikely to get a swing vote in ZANU-PF strongholds. The tactics are all wrong. This is why Mnangagwa in a telling response has said demonstrations cannot vote; only the people can. It is therefore a waste of time spending so much time and energy on processes when it is clear that the party has no real message to put across. Everything is about attaining power. Chamisa seems to think the way to State House is via the modus operandi of trampling on everyone as he did following the demise of his boss, Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.

One has to ask why Chamisa is turning up the heat at this point in time when Zimbabwe has a golden opportunity for a really peaceful election, before, during and after. It must be that he thinks he would benefit from any moves made to neutralize him; he must therefore be feeling quite exasperated by the fact that all that Mnangagwa has so far done is to say that democratic space for people to express themselves freely is now abundant.

The Alliance claims that it can stop the election on July 30. Nobody takes them seriously. They are dying to be voted into office if they could. Rampant intimidation is in the air, and all of it from the Alliance. The Alliance is spewing forth threats of violence left, right and centre. Its leader even says unless he is the winner, the election will have been rigged. This coming from a presidential candidate who has, throughout his life in parliament, been unable to complete a simple library project in his constituency, is quite mystifying. That neglected building is there for all to see. It stands as another monument to his veritable list of untruths.

The man needs to look at himself and introspect. He has alienated a significant constituency of MDC-T supporters and thereby willy-nilly split the vote. His Alliance partners are disgruntled because of what they perceive to be his high-handedness and his disrespect for people. Jessie Majome, a luminary in the original MDC-T, was shoddily discarded and verbally abused. She is now standing as an independent in her constituency. In more than a dozen constituencies the Alliance has more than one candidate.

Furthermore, Chamisa let three national assembly seats go to ZANU-PF whose candidates were unopposed on nomination day. The same is true of well over forty council seats. Dia Wamba’s nightmarish lack of organisational compactness will likely frustrate him and later haunt him as it did in 2013.

The sexist drama by ‘Pastor’ Chamisa’s people is totally unnecessary and quite unsavoury. His hangers-on are quick to label any woman who is a strong independent thinker a prostitute. The latest victim of the slander and invective is Justice Chigumba, chair of ZEC. She is now being demonized for the qualities that opposition circles previously waxed lyrical about. Chigumba is known to have made a number of anti-establishment judgments in the High Court of Zimbabwe.

In attempting to profile Justice Chigumba and also explain what made her appointment to the chair of ZEC a welcome one, Alex Magaisa, sometime in January 2018 wrote:

It is to her credit that she cleared Evan Mawarire, the well-known pastor, activist and leader of #ThisFlag citizens’ campaign, who shot to prominence in 2016. He had been accused of attempting to overthrow the government of Mugabe and inciting others to commit public violence.  Justice Chigumba found in November 2017, that there was no evidence that Mawarire had tried to overthrow the government or the use of violence but that he had urged peace at all times during his campaigns.

This judgment and one or two others she made, including the Ray Goba case, showed Chigumba’s mettle and the fact that she could pronounce judgements without fear or favour. She was thus, initially welcomed by the opposition for her independent thinking. Now that the crystal balls are not so clear regarding Alliance fortunes on July 30, Justice Chigumba is being sacrificed at the altar of political expediency.

Clearly, all the posturing is meant to be a precursor to condemning the elections and angling for accommodation in another Unity government. That is the major objective of Chamisa’s current brinkmanship. And that also is the context in which we must view the fictional mumbo jumbo about mutating ballots. Amazing that the Alliance has no idea what chromatography is!