Perspectives on Chamisa’s loss to Mnangagwa

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By Seewell Mashizha

Chamisa and his political grouping were, on the basis of both their overt and covert machinations, convinced that they were on to a sure thing. The plot was laid well before the 2018 harmonised elections with the ominous emergence of the G40 faction in ZANU-PF. At about the time that this was happening in ZANU-PF elements in the opposition MDC-T began to talk about generational consensus. The two factional expressions were supposed to coalesce at some future point.

Well-ahead of the 2018 harmonised elections, things were pointing to a “super” new party based on a so-called generational consensus. The surreptitious meetings between Alex Magaisa, Jonathan Moyo, Saviour Kasukuwere and Patrick Zhuwao are to be understood in the context. Arthur Mutambara’s pronouncements in that respect were calculated to weave into this new scheme of things.

Chamisa’s major undoing has largely been his hubris. The man and his organisation tend to exhibit an inflated sense of self-importance and arrogance bordering on foolishness. They also have a naïve sense of entitlement according to which they are the “anointed” ones. Yet we see an acute dichotomy between ZANU-PF and the MDC when it comes to tactics and strategy.

Where the ZANU-PF punchline is, “Pamberi neZANU-PF? / Phambili leZANU-PF (Forward with ZANU-PF)”, the MDC Alliance sheepishly chants “Chisa Mbama chisa” and “Chamisa chete chete.” Violence is implicit in the MDC punchline. Not surprisingly, therefore, Chamisa’s seizure of power was followed by a narrowing of the democratic space in the Alliance. Chamisa’s “vanguard” silenced dissenting voices with violence or the threat of it.

Most private media outlets imbued Chamisa with attributes that he has never had. Everything was about Chamisa and he became the infallible star of Zimbabwean politics. These media houses are, therefore, complicit in Chamisa’s behaviour. They made him so self-assured as to be insensitive to opposing national groundswells gathering around him. Thus, when opinion polls told him what his likely fate was, Chamisa chose to think that the organisations were on the Payroll of ZANU-PF. Yet the Alliance almost practically did a somersault when Afrobarometer did a survey that showed the Alliance gaining ground.

With time moving inexorably towards the 2018 elections the sycophancy in respect of Chamisa increased. His cronies and followers forgave him the lies, the sexism, the flippancy and the cluelessness. Willy-nilly, they were, in essence, shepherding him to certain defeat. The thinking that only Chamisa could possibly win the election and that if this did not happen, the election will have been rigged, has motivated the violent mobs.

Murphy’s Law comes into play here because too many things were taken for granted by the Alliance. So, because something was likely to go wrong it went wrong. The grand generation forty configuration originally designed to overshadow anything else in existence went terribly wrong.

The new super party led by party dissidents, academics and opportunists floundered even before it had been sighed into existence. The upstarts across the political divide were bound by the irrational belief that the world belonged to them alone. Everyone else was confined to the house in rocking chairs or cross-legged on the floor. All that such people could do was sit and watch the masters at play or lull themselves to sleep in the morning sun. It mattered little that there was no such model or precedent anywhere in the world.

Violence such as that which we witnessed in Harare on August 1 was always coming given the extent to which Chamisa and his cronies were prepared to go in their quest for power. What they had in store for the country was preceded by certain other strange happenings among which we can list the following:

  • Robert Mugabe turning his back on ZANU-PF, the party he had always sworn by. He shoved aside his oft-repeated exhortation to the effect that the party was supreme.
  • Robert Mugabe doing what not so very long ago would have been unthinkable even in anybody’s wildest dreams: effectively throwing his lot with the MDC Alliance and even providing some financial assistance to it.
  • Chamisa apparently taking on board Jonathan Moyo and others who were singing for their supper in the belief that if they threw a spanner in the works, Mnangagwa would be beaten and replaced by themselves in the person of Chamisa. This is most likely the reason why to date Chamisa has no deputy. That position was the carrot he was dangling before ex-ZANU-PF hopefuls now in his ranks.
  • Chamisa allowing himself to be misguided by Jonathan Moyo’s fictional twitter releases on the basis of which the Alliance began to talk about migrating votes and chromatography.

Outwardly the Alliance made it seem as if its inevitable victory was being thwarted by ZEC in collusion with the incumbent government, but paradoxically insisted that they had already won the election. The tension between these two positions was meant to keep everyone on tenterhooks and portray Chamisa as the only real deal. Mnangagwa was thought to be of nuisance value only, hence Nelson Chamisa’s boast that he was rehearsing how to inspect a guard of honour.

The MDC Alliance strategy morphed into a combination of fanatical blindness and superstition. Accordingly, Paul Mangwana representing ZANU-PF on the Multi-Party liaison committee observed that what the MDC Alliance was saying about migrating votes bordered on witchcraft. The Alliance was oblivious of the fact that there was no precedent of such a phenomenon anywhere in the world.

During the processes of the just-concluded plebiscite, the MDC Alliance took propaganda to hitherto unknown levels, habitually peddling untruths as a matter of course. Fair-minded Zimbabweans will wonder why the MDC Alliance is unwilling to release the information on its V11 copies. The answer is simple. The forms will show that the Alliance was legitimately beaten and that their polling agents endorsed the results coming out of the polling stations.

Interestingly, the Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) which in the past was pro-opposition in its pronouncements this time around forsook its previous stance and became more objective. In respect of the voter registration exercise ZESN observed that there was a high turn–out of voters registered in ZANU-PF strongholds. It also observed that by contrast there were lesser numbers in MDC strongholds. With that in mind it becomes difficult to think that the election could have gone any other way, unless of course, the MDC Alliance had something else under its sleeve. That something else was the migration of votes from ZANU-PF to the Alliance via the bhora musango route. Chamisa had been assured by his ‘co-cospirators” that this would happen, and that he would become president regardless of how his party fared in its tally of national assembly seats. The extent of G40 influence in terms of eating away ZANU-PF support appears to have been grossly overrated.

According to ZESN, “At 98 percent of polling stations, all polling agents present were given an official copy of the V11 results form and/or the official results were immediately posted. At only 2 percent of polling stations were official copies of the V11 results form not provided to all polling agents and the official results not immediately posted.”

Furthermore, ZESN noted that its sample-based observation (SBO) – comprised of surveys at 750 polling stations where 324 948 voters of the 383 272 registered cast their votes indicated that Zanu-PF’s candidate Emmerson Mnangagwa would win 50,7 percent of the vote, while the MDC Alliance’s Nelson Chamisa was expected to get 45,7 percent.

Commenting on the actual results ZESN says, “ZEC’s announced official results are consistent with the SBO projections. The percentage vote for each candidate as officially announced by the ZEC falls within the SBO estimated ranges.” This in effect, is an endorsement of the elections by ZESN and is a significant change of scenario.

Given that the situation on the ground as depicted by ZESN and others is significantly different from the official MDC Alliance spin, we must find the MDC Alliance culpable in the matter of the recent post-election violence and the subsequent deaths of six Zimbabweans including one person who was caught in the melee.

In an action reminiscent of Ndabaningi Sithole denouncing the armed struggle in court, Nelson Chamisa recently threw his supporters under the bus in a shameless attempt to distance himself from the violence. His lame argument was that because people were chanting his name it did not mean that they were his supporters. This is dishonest and ridiculous given Chamisa’s loud ebullience about shutting the country down if he did not win the plebiscite.

Recent advice from the State Department of the Trump administration is well worth noting. Trump spokesperson, Heather Nauert, issued a statement to the effect that “…all stakeholders and citizens (should) pursue any grievances peacefully and through established legal channels, and we encourage all political leaders to show magnanimity in victory and graciousness in defeat.”

The envisaged court challenge against ED’s win should rightly be ruled frivolous and vexatious. Zimbabwe needs to move on.