Hopewell Chin’ono: A time to reflect on what was true and what was make believe

By Hopewell Chin’ono

I noticed my MDCA-Nerorist friends sharing a story about an American congresswoman, Karen Bass, in WhatsApp groups on Sunday. The story’s headline read, “Chamisa should accept poll result.”

© Alex McBride / AFP | Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters attend a rally ahead of Zimbabwe's general election on July 28, 2018.
© Alex McBride / AFP | Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters attend a rally ahead of Zimbabwe’s general election on July 28, 2018.

This statement was said by US Congresswoman, Karen Bass who is also a Member of the Foreign Affairs Sub-Committee on Africa at Capitol Hill.

Read Full Story Here: https://www.voazimbabwe.com/amp/us-congresswoman-urges-zimbabwe-to-respect-human-rights-opposition-right-to-protest/4553129.html?__twitter_impression=true

In the Voice of America interview, the US Congresswoman states that the MDCA leader must now focus on leading his troops as a strong opposition leader holding the government to account.

“The courts have ruled, that is the process, and so to not recognize him (Emmerson Mnangagwa) as president, I don’t know what that means,” the US Congresswoman said.

“I don’t like our current president (Donald Trump) and we had a very messy process here in the United States and many people questioned the legitimacy.”

“But he is the president and as long as he is the president, you know I can say I don’t want him to be the president all day long, but I am a member of Congress and I function as part of government and he’s the president,” Karen Bass added.

Karen Bass
Karen Bass

I have been saying this since the day the constitutional court pronounced its elections ruling.

Perhaps it now makes sense to Nerorists because a US congresswoman has said it.

Nelson Chamisa’s supporters have come to be known affectionately as Nerorists, a term which stems from their leader’s nick-name of Nero, named after the fifth emperor of Rome.

It was indeed politically vacuous for the MDCA National Council to meet last week and declare Nelson Chamisa the winner of the recently held presidential election when the rest of the world is saying the opposite.

It is straight out of a student politics manual book and shows the lack of good advice and political clarity that Chamisa urgently needs.

Many of his supporters on social media keep asking why we write about their leader and not only focus on Emmerson Mnangagwa, the election winner.

They fail to understand that you can’t ignore a man who got 2 million votes and leads the biggest opposition party in the country.

This particular issue of whether he concedes defeat or not can’t be ignored because his claims led his supporters to demonstrate in the streets, an act that unfortunately led to the senseless killing of 7 civilians by the military.

Property was burned including cars and privately owned shops on the strength of Chamisa’s claim that he had indeed won the presidential election and his assertion that he had the full evidence of V11 forms to prove it.

It is therefore ridiculous for his supporters to simply ask the media and everyone else to move on as if nothing ever happened, when any sane person can see that his actions have the sum total of stalling the country’s march towards a better economy.

Mr Chamisa said he had a "legitimate claim" to lead Zimbabwe
Mr Chamisa said he had a “legitimate claim” to lead Zimbabwe

Chamisa has the responsibility of putting this issue to bed and the government has the responsibility of explaining why the military used live ammunition on unarmed civilians.

None of them has the moral capital of asking us to move on and focus on others things when their actions had the sum total of mayhem and death.

The government has put together a commission of inquiry as demanded by the western powers.

Power and authority should be exercised with restraint on both sides and it should come with political responsibility.

When we err on the political arena, we should put our hands up and not insult fellow citizens by asking them to move on whilst we are engaged in acts that won’t allow them to move on.

Chamisa’s refusal to concede election defeat will create a political crisis because his supporters will continue to speak ill of not just the president but indirectly the country too.

The MDCA has resolved to take its case to the African Union’s African Commission on Human and People’s Rights Court (ACHPR) whose Executive Secretary is Zimbabwean Dr Mary Maboreke.

This is a political act that can only result, at the very most, with an unenforceable decision only useful for judicial scholars and jurisprudence.

However it has the sum total of keeping the country in a mortal fighting mood, an act that will make it difficult for investors to feel comfortable on the back of Nelson Chamisa’s promise to roll out more demonstrations.

As I have always argued for years now, the MDC needs to let go of its unhealthy fascination with legal solutions when faced with political hurdles.

They yield absolutely nothing for the MDCA except huge legal bills and more heightened fears and frustrations for their supporters and invariably the country at larger because they are a big political party with a huge social base.

Only lawyers have emerged better off from these futile legal exercises that at the end of his life, Morgan Tsvangirai described as misplaced elitist approaches to resolving political disputes.

The MDCA leadership has largely become a lawyers boys club, so just like a carpenter, every problem to them requires a hammer and a nail!

Lawyers representing the opposition party in Zimbabwe are seen upon arrival at the Constitutional Court in Harare, Wednesday, Aug, 22, 2018, to begin a challenge to the results of last month’s historic presidential election. The opposition claims the vote had “gross mathematical errors” and seeks a fresh election or a declaration of its candidate Nelson Chamisa as the winner of the July 30 vote.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)
Lawyers representing the opposition party in Zimbabwe are seen upon arrival at the Constitutional Court in Harare, Wednesday, Aug, 22, 2018, to begin a challenge to the results of last month’s historic presidential election. The opposition claims the vote had “gross mathematical errors” and seeks a fresh election or a declaration of its candidate Nelson Chamisa as the winner of the July 30 vote.(AP Photo/Tsvangirayi Mukwazhi)

Chamisa’s South African lawyer, Tembeka Ngcukaitobi, who was part of his election legal case, acknowledged in an interview with Voice of America that Chamisa only had 1000 V11 forms.

This piece of information is contrary to his earlier assertion that he had all the 10500 V11 forms.
(Listen to Tembeka Ngcukaitobi’s attached interview audio file).

So if I were Nelson Chamisa, I would come out and accept the obtaining political reality that won’t change.

I would denounce sanctions and let ZIDERA be a ZANUPF baby, knowing very well that ZIDERA would only be removed if ZANUPF starts implementing the required reforms.

This would cleanse Chamisa’s “Mr ZIDERA Sanctions” tag whilst allowing him to focus his political stock on substantive electoral reform issues and allowing ZANUPF to take full ownership of the sanctions mess.

Unlike what most Nerorists seem to believe whilst talking in their self-absorbed propaganda echo chambers, the sanctions issue is a sore point especially on the African continent where Chamisa has NO friends except the inconsequential Raila Odinga.

The recent strong political statements by the South African President, Cyril Ramaphosa when responding to Donald Trump are a reflection of the current thinking in the African corridors of power.

All these issues should have been factored in when the MDCA party chose to take the ACHPR route, an organization whose mother body is chaired by President Paul Kagame of Rwanda.

The African Union has reversed decisions made by the ACHPR before like the granting of observer status to gay and lesbian organizations.

It is important for Nelson Chamisa to now focus on rebuilding his political party structures and open lines of communication in Africa with the political elite in order to help push for the required reforms that will assist in leveling the electoral playing field in 2023.

He needs Africa because he doesn’t have the required numbers in parliament to push for any meaningful political and electoral reforms. That is why I said it is a political problem that requires political solutions not comical superfluous legal threats!

Zimbabwe has had ACHPR rulings before which it simply ignored and disregarded.

Many countries on the continent have done the same too, countries whose mandate would have been to coerce each other into honoring ACHPR rulings.

It is an old boys club which will not countenance one of theirs being stripped of political dignity by an organization that they control especially after a domestic court has pronounced on a dispute.

What will actually force Zimbabwe to play ball and listen to the reforms agenda will be the economy.

If I were Chamisa, I would now start refining and sharpening my political tools in anticipation of responding to the economic challenges facing ZANUPF.

The Sunday papers had stories of the dismissal of 400 Metalion Gold workers. Those 400 workers equate to at least 2500 family members.

Kenya Airways has stopped taking Bond note payments and I am told more airlines will soon follow suit. All serious Pferorists, as Mnangagwa’s supporters are known, are currently worried about the economic problems that have already started unraveling.

That to me is what a serious opposition party should be seized with including finding a pathway to reforms than pursuing futile court cases, losing much needed money and eventually coming full circle with nothing achieved.

A former journalist and famous British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill once said, “…never waste a good crisis. Never let a good crisis go to waste.”

The world has spoken on who the legitimate Zimbabwean President is, everything else becomes political pantomime and comical theatric sideshows.

Nelson Chamisa’s supporters should engage on substantive issues and not only offer insults and shutting down people who exercise their right to bring these political issues to the fore.

When there is a political crisis of this nature, we all get affected and suffer and the economy gets hammered.

When the economy falters, it doesn’t select a specific group of supporters, it affects all of us. So we have a right to discuss these issues and we shouldn’t be shut down by an intolerant mob.

When politics affects my pocket, it would be irresponsible for anyone to keep me quiet and insult me for offering ideas. We should instead share these ideas and refine them as compatriots and eventually find long lasting solutions that can help our beautiful and yet battered country progress.

Hopewell Chin’ono is an award winning Zimbabwean international Journalist and Documentary Filmmaker. He is a Harvard University Nieman Fellow and a CNN African Journalist of the year.
He is also a Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Africa leadership Institute.

Hopewell has a new documentary film coming out which is looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind. State of Mind has been nominated for a top award in Kenya.

Hopewell can be contacted at [email protected] or on twitter @daddyhope