Nelson Chamisa’s talking points at a SAPES Policy Dialogue forum


MDC-T co-vice president and Kuwadzana MP, Nelson Chamisa
MDC-T co-vice president and Kuwadzana MP, Nelson Chamisa

Introductory Remarks

Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic Corp,
Captains of Industry,
Leaders of the civic groups,
Pastors and Bishops,
Doctors and Professors,
Distinguished colleagues and fellow citizens,
Comrades and friends,

Good evening to you all.

It is a great pleasure to be with you as we share our take on the scope ,scheme and trajectory we envisage for our country henceforth.

Thank you for inviting me at this forum and I want to assure you that as a party, of excellence,  we welcome all progressive discourse and beneficial dialogue pertaining to a not so distant bright future for this beloved and beautiful country that we all love.

As such, the cross pollination of ideas at robust fora such as this one can only be critical, especially at this critical political juncture in our country.

However, by way of preliminary remarks, I just want to comment about the topic at hand, which seems to suggest that a grand coalition and electoral reforms are mutually exclusive.

We would have been happier if the topic was Grand Coalition AND Electoral reforms, not OR. The two are complementary but your topic suggests that we can only push for one of the two at a time, which is misleading because Zimbabweans are committed to the dogged pursuit of both. Grand coalition or electoral reforms?? The two are not mutually exclusive but mutually reinforcing.One feeds into the other.We are pursuing both.

As we define the path to power and the roadmap to a New Zimbabwe, self interest should never be infinitely higher than national interest and public good.

For that reason, we entreat the collective wisdom and patriotic duty of all Zimbabweans to subordinate self to the collective will and common public good of convergence, unity and singleness of purpose.We need to reason together as a people.

As MDCT, being inheritors and legatees to a liberation nationalistic narrative, our duty is to advance the democratic developmental transformational narrative post liberation, carrying forward the unfinished agenda of the liberation and democratization.

This calls for the realignment of all progressive forces. We need the important voice of the custodians of the liberation promise, our war veterans.

We represent the alternative narrative, that New Zimbabwe narrative which entails the entrenchment of a progressive developmental democratic state,  anchored on performing and functional institutions of the state, in delivering for all the citizens of Zimbabwe. That also includes very strong non state actors and civil society.

But what is the  problem in Zimbabwe ??
Our problem is a governance problem.A leadership deficit. In the context of all this, we are in the vortex of a transition. We are in the high politics of transition.
We are in a transition from the old partocratic order epitomized by state-party conflation to the new patriotic order characterized by citizen participation and inclusive policy making with a distinct separation between state and party.

We are in that transitional zone where we either achieve a democratic breakthrough or face the risk of authoritarian consolidation and autocratic sliding back.

We are in the hard search of the liberation idea..We have the revolutionary obligation to execute the unfinished project of the liberation struggle which was hijacked and checked halfway. The effectiveness of liberation is measured by real benefits and improvement the people have attained upon how well their rights and interests are preserved.

The objective of the liberation struggle,  as is the objective of the democratic struggle, was to achieve a democratic polity with regular and credible elections as a key signifier.

As we move from the liberation generation to the transformation and democratic generation, we must change the narrative from the hollow exhausted nationalism to the patriotic democratic dispensation resonating with the the millennials  and post liberation generation..

As we articulate the narrative of the alternative,
we seek to engender, encourage and inculcate a radically new way of thinking deeply rooted in the ethos and values of our liberation struggle.

Of course, that would entail the struggle to move Zimbabwe from the disempowering path of a monarchy or autocracy to the inclusive trajectory of reconstructing and restoring a republic.

We need to restore the Republic.
The characteristics of the republic include but are not limited to the following;
-the supremacy of the will of the people
-Institutions ..strong national institutions
-issues and policies
-leadership not about personalities but ideas.

So we need to build the national collective consensus around a republic. We need a Zimbabwe that is ever moving forward and upward. We deserve this in an all-new politics so sure to come.

But how do we achieve all this?
We need to all seek and mobilize people power for the positive turn of our national circumstances. In that context, power is a creature of consensus and power is based on convergence. We need to bring pressure to bear on forces of reaction and continuity.

We need the new politics. The software of the new politics we so espouse is love, honesty, integrity and accountability.  But these we seem to lack in our old and current politics.

Clearly, wherever there is a shortage, it is but a shortage of love. A shortage of electricity, water, good roads and decent salaries is but a shortage of love. Leaders need to love the people they lead.The hardware of politics is the people’s trust of their government .

There is a deficit of trust as there is a deficit of love.The politics of Zimbabwe is bereft of both hardware of trust and software of love.

When the centre is no longer holding..there will be more smaller centers ..The answer is in the one centre attracting and absorbing the other centers.

It is clear that  yester Liberation generation ‘s mandate was liberation not transformation. Their remit was redistribution of wealth but not creation of wealth.The new generation has the unenviable task of transforming and creating wealth for the nation.

I will underscore three Key points namely ; convergence, electoral reforms and the new Zimbabwe agenda, in the context of the topic under discussion and consideration.

1.Coalition and Convergence
Convergence is part of our DNA as a party.
We believe in not just in a coalition in a narrow sense but a broader convergence of forces and faces, a convergence of voices, a convergence of ideas,  a convergence of people issues and a convergence of strategies and tactics. The coalition is the end product of a process of convergence.

In fact, a convergence is a national demand.People want it .People deserve it.
We stand for an issues based Coalition and electoral reforms are one of the issues. The other big issue for coalescing is the economy. Need for covergence on recovery program. So its not like a chicken and egg scenario. For us, a coalition is vehicular.

Walking together, working together and working with others is in our DNA as a party. It is our second nature and natural default setting. As you may know, the MDC is a product of a coalition of mainly three social movements in 1999 that comprised the labour movement, the student movement and the constitutional movement.

Today, we are at that historic moment where Zimbabweans of various social movements and at various social stations need to come together in a huge convergence for Change.

While President Tsvangirai has so far signed MOUs with political parties, and will sign with more, our view of the alliance we seek to build goes beyond just political parties.

There are many Zimbabweans located in the new changed social base and the party President, Dr M.R Tsvangirai, with his exclusive mandate given to him by the national council, is in talks with various groups that include the church, war veterans, vendors, students, women and youth groups, artisanal miners, among many other social networks. We now have new miners, new farmers, new entrepreneurs,a host of new players and movements who must be understood and embraced for national transformation.

Our National Council has adopted principles for alliance building, drawn up a framework and given the President the special mandate to deal with issues of convergence, coalitions/alliances. We are happy that those discussions are going on very well.

Further to that, President Tsvangirai spent one-half months speaking to chiefs and headmen, opinion leaders and ordinary Zimbabweans in the countryside  and received further direction from our masters, the people themselves, on what they want and what ought to be done.

As things stand, the nation is on the verge of a broad convergence platform for a coalition for Change that will usher in the so deserved positive change in the lives of all the people of this great nation.

But we not unmindful of the fact that coalitions on their own are not a panacea for winning elections but are a necessary vehicle to limit vote splitting, energy dissipation and margin of error.

It is also not the quantum of the political parties in a coalition but the strength the given parties combine for the greater effect in electoral terms. We need both inclusive strength and inclusive participation.It is not just a mere convergence of opposition individuals but opposition forces and formations based on ideas, issues, hopes and vision for a New Zimbabwe.

But why convergence ??
We need the convergence to achieve the following;
-To shore up the numbers
-Energize the base
-Grassroots mobilization
-to harness the collective mobilizing capacities
-to galvanize thought leadership
-to avoid a menu of manipulation
-to boost techne democracy and organic intellectual resources
-to involve those with nationalist liberation credentials
-to synergy resources, human and capital

Without doubt, convergence of all progressive forces and social movements on issues critical to national progress, is a strategic necessity.We are determined to achieve that vital necessity and key variable.

2.Electoral Reforms as key arena and site  of the struggle

Electoral reforms remain our key focus, together with others in the broader democratic movement. Under the banner of ZINERA, we want our elections vaccinated from the periodic afflictions that have bred disputed electoral outcomes and impaired legitimacy in the country. As a party, we are very clear that the national crisis that has been with us for the past two decades is largely a crisis of legitimacy stemming mainly from flawed elections.

We have electoral gaps in all facets.
We have electoral laws flaws, electoral environment gaps, electoral infrastructure and institutional challenges.

Elections in Zimbabwe have reproduced vicious circles of regression and  destruction instead of virtuous cycles of progression, construction and development.We are perennially entrapped in electioneering and sloganeering at the expense of core thought on economic prosperity and strategic visioning for the development of our country.

The demand for electoral reforms is also an arena that is attracting its own grand coalition as evidenced by how we are coming together as political parties and civic groups demanding clean elections that do not breed contested outcomes. Zanu PF and ZEC can only ignore the sonorous chorus for electoral sanity at their own peril. All we are demanding is a squeaky clean voters roll and a credible election underpinned by the freedom of Zimbabweans to express themselves in the ballot and a guarantee that their sovereign expression will be guaranteed.


For us , it is a mix of the conditions and the convergence. The ‘conditions’ discourse upon the ‘convergence’ discourse  will make it possible to achieve stability, prosperity and change in Zimbabwe.

Under the prevailing conditions, whrr ether with a coalition or not, it must be known by all and sundry that 2018 will be just another election year similar to 2013. We must not repeat the 2013 mistakes.

The 13 Key Reforms needed at a glance:

1. A credible voters’ roll. Voting by ids for presidential and parliamentary or an electronic biometric voters’roll with people who have attained 18 years being automatically registered according to section 67(3) of the constitution of Zimbabwe.

2. Redefining and clarifying the agreed role of the selectorate namely bureaucrats, technocrats and securocrats..civil servants   police, army, Intelligence must not be partisan. Our esteemed security personnel must only play the limited patriotic role of providing security, maintaining peace and free politics. Chiefs and Headmen should de-roll and not be abused by any one party on account of being forced to play a negative role in our national elections.

3. Vote buying by any means should be made a serious punishable offence meriting outright disqualification.

4.Chlorinating the ZEC secretariat and technical staff. Opposition political parties and other key stakeholders should be involved and participate fully in selecting the election officials (Seconded to Zec) at all levels during the elections.  All the 10 Zec ‘s Provincial Officers must be relieved of their duties and replaced by neutral and professional people instead of those Zanu Pf activists.

5. Access to the media by all political parties with equal airtime on national public radio and TVs.Political parties should even further be licensed to have own and run TV and radio stations  as in other democratic jurisdictions and countries such as Ghana.

6. All parties, stakeholders and actors to agree on the printer and printing of ballot papers and procurement of other voting material including carrying out an authenticity forensic testing of ballot papers before and after voting.

7. Every polling agent for every political party in every polling station during the voting process.

8. All contesting candidates should be given time to campaign without fear of attacks from sponsored thugs. Zanu Pf must disband terror bases and remove the position of Youth Officers across the country.

9. Diaspora vote to be provided for.

10. International observers and supervisors including those from SADC,AU, UN and anyone wishing to witness the elections should be allowed in the country at least 3 months before and after voting.Accreditation of the same to be done by an independent body without the involvement of spooky faces and forces.

11. We need full alignment of election related laws with the constitution accompanied by enforcement of the revised laws.

12. Strengthening of election regulations to address gaps and provide clarity in administration of elections to remove use of discretion by election administrators in managing elections
13. Enforce provisions addressing political violence and intimidation in terms of the law through the setting up in full and activation of Special Investigative Committees with full participation of ZHRC, ZEC, ZRP, NPA and the JSC.

More importantly and more urgently , we need all to be registered or register as voters.The constitutional duty to register citizens as voters falls squarely on government.

We must be mindful that we do not have all the time in this world. In fact, we have already lost a lot time. Time is not on our side as a people.We must simply act and act now. Even our oppressors, the rulers of the land, are depending, expecting and looking forward to us ,the oppressed majority, for their ultimate deliverance and freedom from this man made catastrophe our motherland has been plunged into.

We are however verily aware that elections conditions in themselves are not enough without the extra effort and hardwork to reach all the corners of Zimbabwe.
We must move to create the ingredients of electoral victory  by breaking Zanu pf’s monopoly over key levers of power.We must deal with the hexagon of monopolies.
Monopoly of the purse-there is need for equal access to resources.
Monopoly of force / coercion -there is need for instruments of force to be availed to national use not partisan abuse.
Monopoly of propaganda -there is need for a equal access to platforms and mediums of communication.
Monopoly of the mass -there is need for unfettered accessibility of all places and sections of people.
Monopoly of deputies/ ideas-Ideas must be cross pollinated without undue encumbrance.
Monopoly of diplomacy -there is need to to reach out to all friends for mobilize solidarity for the people of Zimbabwe.

3. Articulating credible and bankable alternative Policies as part of a roadmap to a positive destination

As a party, we have polished up our policy documents. We believe it is not enough to criticize the status quo without giving Zimbabweans a clear picture of the new country we want to create, from a policy point of view.

All politics is the struggle to win power or retain it to execute policies  for the articulation and aggregation of settled interest.

The key pillars of our economic policy shall be production, jobs creation, currency reform, economic revival, modernization, entrepreneurship, dealing with corruption and promoting technology skills transfer.

We shall emphasize smart governance, smart economics, smart institutions, smart social policies and smart foreign polices in a new Zimbabwe.

Our policies, to be unveiled soon, are door and a window of the great new Zimbabwe we want to create and unleash.

In the coming few months we will be giving Zimbabweans an exciting bouquet of our policies detailing how we plan to deal with the infrastructural, social and economic decay that has brought us on the verge of being a failed state . I am saying this confidently policy reform is my area of responsibility as given to me by the President of the party. Indeed, from a policy point of view, our policy alternative will give Zimbabweans a true alternative that will bring positive change in their lives. Just watch this space.


I just want to restate that contrary to the topic that you have given me today, a grand coalition and electoral reforms are mutually inclusive. They are two sides of the same coin and as a party, we are pursuing both doggedly.

We just want to assure Zimbabweans that we cannot afford to Zimbabweans to succeed in our generational mandate in 2018.

We must move a gear up and a notch higher.Lets do it!!
We owe it to ourselves and to future generations.

Thank you.

God bless Zimbabwe,
God bless Africa,
God bless you.