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Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo: Elective congress and the Chamisa factor

By Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo

Genuine leaders are elected into office and not appointed. To set the record straight it is health for the Chamisa led MDC Alliance to hold its elective congress. The forth coming congress for MDC Alliance is a litmus test for democracy and the Chamisa factor.

Zimbabwe's opposition leader Nelson Chamisa casts his vote at polling station during Zimbabwe General Elections on July 30, 2018 in Harare. (Photo by Zinyange AUNTONY / AFP) (Photo credit should read ZINYANGE AUNTONY/AFP/Getty Images)
Zimbabwe’s opposition leader Nelson Chamisa casts his vote at polling station during Zimbabwe General Elections on July 30, 2018 in Harare. (Photo by ZINYANGE AUNTONY/AFP/Getty Images)

Don’t ignore reasonable facts that though Chamisa was appointed as the caretaker President for the Movement for Democratic Change in 2018 ahead of harmonized elections, there were some controversies regarding his ascendancy to power within the movement.

To clear that, there has to be a proper elective congress which must be endorsed by regional and international community. For me it would be prudent to allow structures and the common person on the ground to debate solidly and constructively. One has to prove to the mass that he or she is popular, and this will define the 2023 agenda and other future key elections to come.

I don’t buy in the idea of having some positions being reserved for appointments, all positions must come from the people. What will be the reason for holding this elective congress? Common thread is that Chamisa took over from the late Tsvangirai and within four months he managed to pull at least 2.6 million votes.

The party had no proper regalia, no resources, they went into an election with a popular candidate and he managed to pull such numbers. This fact must be stated clearly that as delegates prepare for the forth coming elective congress, this must be put into consideration.

Chamisa is more popular than the party

The party did not perform well than what Chamisa did, and this was a result of his popularity. From my understanding, delegates across the country will add up to at least 7000 people. This is not a small figure but making a comparison to the 2.6 million votes which Chamisa garnered you can also put this into consideration that his popularity is far much better than of the party.

Chamisa is also more popular outside than the party itself. Basically what happened is that, because of his party he helped the party to pull more votes than before. A comparative analysis clearly shows that in previous elections, MDC used to pull at 1.8 million votes than the previous one.

Its popularity increased by 30%. Chamisa managed to pull at least 2.5 million votes, and such numbers cannot be ignored when putting the issue of congress into consideration. Those calling for his ouster would be suicidal as we head towards 2023 elections.

Changing candidates will not only confuse the electorate but cost the party in terms of preparations and voter education. However this must not dismiss the idea of having Chamisa contested. For democracy to prevail he must be challenged.

Should Chamisa be contested?

Yes I agree 100%, Chamisa must be contested at the forth coming elective congress. This will give him a fresh mandate with unnecessary controversies and this will give him fresh mind ahead of any party programs. In fact this will boost him, with more numbers in future elections.

He has made it clear on several tweets that he will leave his post open for contest, which can be a good signal and litmus test for democracy. Those who are calling for Chamisa not to be contested, are merely spoilers and bootlickers who maybe singing for their supper and protecting their own interests within the movement.

Those are the same people, who were fielding double candidates for their own interests using Chamisa’s name. I don’t support the idea of Chamisa appointing any executive post, everyone must pass through the congress litmus test. There must be no sacred cows, no one should be spared or protected, let everyone who is interested in any post, contest and fight hard to win the post.

This will then give the leadership a fresh mandate from the people. We have seen the circular purporting that congress will only elect the office of the President, two VPs, National Chairman and his deputy and the rest will be appointments from the winning Presidential aspirant. This will be the biggest blunder that MDC Alliance will make and live to regret.

Mudzuri and Mwonzora as Key contenders

If these two contest, it is within their democratic space to do so, if they contest Chamisa, they are not sellouts but they are card carrying members. Don’t buy much to bar talk about the 6 million saga. If the two lose, they are still MDC A members and they must be respected.

It is their democratic right to contest any office of their own choice. However Chamisa, Mudzuri and Mwonzora must understand that the internal process of electing leadership is not about them but it’s a national matter. There are more than 2 million who voted for Chamisa who are not even within MDC structures. So the trio must not get too excited with congressional matter, it is about the future of the movement. They must sober and consider their political career.

No party can win elections with their own card carrying members only, and this is why I have earlier on alluded to the fact that there is a Chamisa factor which must be put into consideration. If MDC A elects any other candidate other than Chamisa they must kiss good bye to 2023, and this will put the party into disarray and this what Zanu PF wants.

Zanu PF knows very well that if the economy does not improve and ED has to face Chamisa on polls, it will be a massacre, here we want to deal with the common sense and not partisan rambling. Mudzuri is around 50s, Mwonzora is also above 50 and Chamisa is around 41.

Get this right, voting pattern which will decide the future of this country is mainly from the young generation between 18 and 39, and this group constitutes 68% of the population. What this means is that, this group will vote their own into office, in the name of Chamisa. Another option which Mwonzora and Mudzuri can weigh on is to have a negotiated congress were they agree which posts to contest so that it will be a rubber stamp on the elective congress.

Mwonzora as a veteran in the movement can also be considered in key assignments. What Chamisa needs to do, is to bring Mwonzora on board in key strategic areas to avert a split or marred controversies.

Remember the issue of tribal ethnic as well, this will improve social imbalances and regional issues. Plain common sense, Chamisa will retain Presidency, and I don’t see any other contender defeating him, but is good for democracy to prevail, to allow other contenders to challenge him, if they are willing.

Common Sense thread

Exercise caution and diligence when choosing leaders. I have a problem with bootlickers. Each time when a congress is called they start bootlicking. Congresses are meant to discuss the future of organisations, review progress and voting people on merit is key.

If MDC Alliance is not careful they will remain in opposition for a long time and this may frustrate many who have been in the struggle for a long time. I would start by saying it is key to review the five year progress, whether previous leadership met the targets and to see progress of the organisation.

MDC needs proper Research department which must assist them to see what happened, and there must be qualitative analysis and quantitative analysis and make comparisons on what is on the ground. Apparently, they have the numbers but did the support base increase or did the numbers go down? What has led to some defections? Are you doing the proper thing?

I don’t buy the idea of retaining some people in office simply because they have been in the struggle for a long time and this is what has killed many organisations. Bootlicking must stop and make a review of progress in each and every office bearer. In actual fact, every office and individual must be scrutinized.

Majority of these bootlickers are using CHAMISA’s name to seek protection which is not good. I want to warn Nelson Chamisa that if you protect looters, bootlickers and those who have been abusing party funds and those bootlickers that if you fail to win 2023, people will be on your neck in 2023 and you may face ouster. No need to protect looters people must be voted on merit and professionalism.

I don’t buy the idea of saying when someone is a standing committee member therefore he or she must retain his or her post, there must be a difference between Zanu PF and MDC. We have gone way past that. We are in a modern world and we must allow people to exercise their rights.

Stop those endorsements and focus on Development agenda. Why do start those early endorsements for now? For what?? Zanu PF is happy when you start those endorsements because they know that there is no difference with them.

Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is an academic and studying Doctor of Philosophy at Women’s University of Africa and He can be contacted at [email protected]