By Hopewell Chin’ono
Last night I posted an MDC rally video on my social media platforms and I asked whether the MDC elective congress campaigning was already in full swing.
Many of my social media contacts responded with a multitude of opinions, but those opposed to Nelson Chamisa brought up one issue that they hope to use to try and stop his national tidal wave of support at the MDC congress in May of this year.
The common thread seems to be saying that Nelson Chamisa will be elected or dismissed by MDC delegates and not the general social base outside the MDC, therefore anything can happen and his national popularity doesn’t matter so goes the idea.
Here is my personal view, Nelson Chamisa took over from Morgan Tsvangirai and within five months of leading the MDC after Tsvangirai’s death, Chamisa had managed to get over 2 million votes in a general election, invariably those were mainly Chamisa votes and I will explain why.
The MDC as a party did not perform as well as Chamisa did and that is a fact borne in numbers and not opinions, look at the MDC parliamentary tally against Chamisa’s official presidential tally.
It is either Chamisa has become a much stronger brand than his own political party or his party did not invest as much as they should have in the parliamentary race.
The other two contenders for the MDC leadership are lawyer Douglas Mwonzora and engineer Elias Mudzuri, two gentlemen that I have known personally over the years, and I have the utmost of respect for both of them.
I even spent two nights living at the Mudzuri homestead in Zaka whilst filming his father in 2008 after Sekuru Mudzuri and his children had been beaten up by the military in the post election violence of 2008, the scenes are in my documentary film A Violent Response.
So I know and respect all three men involved in this internal presidential race, but mine is just an opinion based on the realities on the ground and not political emotions because I am not even a member of the MDC but just a social commentator.
The MDC must understand that an internal party election is not just about them, but also about the national social base that they intend to attract at a general election.
It is about people who are not even MDC members, but folks who will either make the MDC win or lose a general election in 2023 all things being equal.
No party can ever win a general election with its own card-carrying members only, that is what I will call the Nelson factor, an element that the other two contenders for the MDC Presidency simply don’t have.
If the MDC elects any other candidate other than Nelson Chamisa, they might as well kiss goodbye to 2023, and that is why ZANUPF folks are so energized on supporting the other two MDC candidates on social media.
There is an openly anti-Chamisa frenzy from well-known ZANUPF social media surrogates and there is a reason for that disingenuous wave of support for anyone other than Nelson Chamisa.
ZANUPF knows that if the economy doesn’t dramatically improve and President Emmerson Mnangagwa has to face Chamisa at the polls again in 2023, it will be an electoral massacre of unimaginable proportions for the President.
Let us deal with strictly common sense and facts as opposed to partisan rambling and irrational arguments.
The average voter in 2023 will be below 35 years of age, those born in 2000 will be 23 years of age and those born in 2005 will be voting for the first time.
They don’t have any emotional ties or defined political attachment to either the MDC or to ZANUPF, they will pick a candidate that best represents their economic interests and someone they can identify with, someone they can imagine visualizing their future.
This is plain common sense that we can’t even argue with by positing opinions or otherwise, this is just the reality today as we speak in Zimbabwean politics.
So there are two things that will likely happen, Wamba as Nelson Chamisa is popularly known by his supporters will carry the day and ZANUPF will have to work extra hard to avoid using violence as a power retention tool in 2023.
ZANUPF and President Mnangagwa will also have to work extra harder on the economy in order to win the general election in 2023 all things being equal.
If the MDC elects someone else other than Wamba in May at their elective congress, something which I doubt they will do, they will stand NO chance at the polls in 2023, it will be a catastrophic error of political judgment and tact.
Wamba will likely lead a much bigger break away MDC at the instigation of his supporters in the unlikely event of him losing to either Mudzuri or Mwonzora.
Such a split will have the consequence of dividing the opposition vote and that can only benefit the incumbent ruling party depending on other variables at play in 2023.
This explains why the ruling party is salivating at the thought of Nelson Chamisa losing the MDC presidency in May.
So any MDC delegate who has the interests of their party at heart will have to vote for Wamba if they envision being a political party running a government.
They don’t have to like Wamba but he is the man of the moment, and if they desire winning an election then their choice is a no brainer, it will be Nelson Chamisa.
If they vote otherwise, their vote will ensure and perpetuate their comical stay in the opposition ranks because we now know that the floating and average voter is likely to vote for personalities and not necessarily political parties.
I don’t see any other meaningful argument beyond Wamba’s case, not because of anything else but just plain common sense.
He is MDC’s future for now and electing him will be a step closer to fulfilling that dream that has been deferred for 19 years of engineered election heartbreaks for their party.
Then there is the argument that Chamisa is not yet polished politically and that he is too much of an entertainer than your traditional politician, but then who is he being compared against?
The person that he will meet at the polls is President Mnangagwa, so on what basis is the suitability argument based on when comparing the two men?
Zimbabwe’s situation is akin to a home whose roof has been blown away by a thunderous storm accompanied with lightning, and that is NO exaggeration at all.
We have no currency of our own, we have no medicines in our hospitals, we have no food security, we have no foreign exchange in our banks, we don’t even have sufficient local currency going around, we have no jobs and the list goes on.
Now for those seeking a different political direction to ZANUPF there is only one question to answer and again it is premised on the central argument of common sense.
Do you get to choose whether you must put Harvey tiles or the Blue Roof type when rain is pouring into your home damaging your property?
It is pointless for the social and professional elites to complain about the quality of the political candidates in the opposition when the elites themselves see politics as beneath them.
Until the day they chose to go out and campaign, distributing fliers and voting for the likes of Nkosana Moyo and Noah Manyika who seem to espouse their values, then they must be content with those that chose to do the foot work on the ground.
Politics is a game of free association, why not form political parties that embrace those values and campaign for them?
In all this wave of popularity, Nelson Chamisa needs to unite the opposition movement if he emerges the winner and his supporters must be humble and not allow the tyranny of majority to become their identity of engagement.
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 looking at mental illness in Zimbabwe called State of Mind, which was launched to critical acclaim.
The recently departed music superstar Oliver Mtukudzi wrote the sound track for State of Mind.
It was recently nominated for a big award at the Festival International du Film Pan-Africain de Cannes in France. You can watch the documentary trailer below.