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Nelson Chamisa: A target for conspiracy theorists

MDC Deputy President Nelson Chamisa
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The “hint” given by MDC founding leader, Morgan Tsvangirai that he looks forward to the prospect of passing on the baton to the younger generation has generated a lot of interest and debate within and outside the MDC-T and its alliance partners.

By Wilton N Machimbira

A lot is happening and the world is looking with the curiosity of a kid to see who will eventually emerge as the leader of the opposition party. It is at this hour that those within the rank and file of MDC-T are implored to be honest with themselves, to make an honest assessment and come up with a viable robust contingency plan if the MDC-T founding president decides to call it quits.

The tragedy we have is that humans are by nature selfish and manipulative. The MDC-T leadership has to make a political feasibility study and a situational analysis and come to terms with public opinion with regards to Tsvangirai’s successor.

Conspiracy theories have flooded the political market place. They have aided fragmentation, fuelled disunity and discord at a time we are in need of convergence. Conspiracy theories are all the rage these days. Barely a day goes by without someone accusing another of engaging in fake news, post-truths, witch hunts and organised political skulduggery.

Conspiracy theories are not just harmless irrational beliefs. They have serious impact, and can be used entirely rationally to justify political views. And because people are likely to interpret conspiracy theories in line with their political values and interests, this can increase political fragmentation. As conspiracy theories blame certain groups for wrongdoing, they can embolden existing political divisions groups.

Its an act of political astuteness to be realistic even if that kind of reality is somehow unpalatable and contrary to our wishes and aspirations. We are in Africa, ours is a deeply rooted patriarchal and phallocratic society with pervasive patriarchal tendencies that even manifest themselves in politics.

Thokozani Khupe has been an MDC-T Vice-President for the past decade. Propositions have been forwarded in some quarters that she is Tsvangirai’s natural successor.

She is not a run-off the mill type of a politician, I admire her composure, but the undeniable fact is that the Zimbabwean society is not yet ready for a female President just like any other Southern African country.

I am not trying to sound misogynistic, but to unpack the salient political dynamics. The defeat of Joyce Banda by Peter WaMatharika in Malawi, the defeat of Nkosozana Dlamini Zuma by Cyril Ramaphosa in the contest for the ANC presidency in South Africa and even the failure by Joice Mujuru to succeed former President Robert Mugabe after serving for more than a decade as his Vice-President are political precedents that buttress the stubborn reality that Southern Africa is not yet ready for a female President. The Operation Restore Legacy that attracted global attention was precipitated by surreptitious machinations of a highly-ambitious woman, who wanted to defy the glass-ceiling by hook or crook.

The crisis we have in Zimbabwe is that we have some in our midst with tribal minds, ears and eyes, who view anything within tribal lenses such that it is so easy to be labelled a tribalist if you dare try to examine the political clout of certain leaders, who hail from certain regions and are viewed as regional heroes and messiahs. Its like such political leaders should not be subjected to scrutiny as doing such can invite a vitriolic backlash. We need to detribalise our political thinking if we are to move forward as a nation. Therefore, those who are of the opinion that MDC-T would have revealed tribal tendencies if Khupe fails to land the presidency should be realistic with themselves. Such an argument doesn’t hold water.

Who then has the critical mass and the much needed political clout to succeed Tsvangirai if he decides to call it quits? The whispers of the MDC-T vice-president, Nelson Chamisa are now common in towns, villages, churches, universities and workplaces. In this instalment I suggest that Chamisa has what it takes to assume the reigns of the MDC-T leadership. That’s my argument; taking full cognisance of the fact that every argument has its adherents and detractors and that should not be criminalised in a democratic society.

It is these whispers that have seen a well-orchestrated smear campaign against Chamisa by those in and outside the MDC-T, who feel threatened by Chamisa’s tremendous abilities. Those afflicted with an inferiority complex syndrome. He is a purveyor of retail politics and a proponent of thought leadership as is evidenced by his thunderous thought provoking debates in parliament, but after all is said and done, he needs a team that includes other thought leaders within the whole opposition gamut, the likes of Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube and Khupe.

But at this juncture, Khupe has to play her cards close to her chest, she has to make well-calculated political moves or risk the ignominy of a fall from grace within the MDC-T ranks not in the so distant future because the MDC Alliance supporters didn’t take lightly her snub of the alliance’s launch in Bulawayo. She has to work very hard to redeem herself and regain the trust of the MDC Alliance supporters. If we are not honest with our politicians, we fall into the trap of being praise-singers, sycophants and political eunuchs.

At the peak of G40 and Lacoste tug of war, President Emmerson Mnangagwa alleged that Jonathan Moyo was working in cohorts with former Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono, Chamisa, Sapes Trust boss, Ibbo Mandaza and Alex Magaisa on his succession project. These were serious unsubstantiated allegations.

Of late, Patrick Zhuwawo of the disillusioned and dysfunctional G40 wants the masses to believe that Chamisa is working with the military to capture the MDC Presidency.

As if it is not enough, it’s now being alleged that Chamisa is working with Elizabeth Tsvangirai to capture the MDC-T Presidency when in fact she doesn’t have a position in the party. That’s the least a tactician of Chamisa’s calibre can do.

How on earth can a sober minded person reconcile such diametrically opposed ludicrous conspiracy theories. No doubt Chamisa is now a target by conspiracy theorists.

The Zimbabwean body politic is now an arena of angry minds and the visibly underutilised angry minds have upped their onslaught on the person of Chamisa. Its sheer malice and regrettable mudslinging by people of less political clout, who feel threatened by the youthful, energetic and fiery MDC-T vice-president.

The impression is that a “Fifth Column” is ganging up with some in the “Fourth Estate”, burning midnight oil and coming up with a cocktail of strategies to besmirch the image of Chamisa and politically eliminate him. Hate him, call him all sorts of names, but you wont take his incontestable connection with the grass-roots.

He appeals to the masses, the ordinary folks in Chipinge, Mudzi and Muzarabani, the intelligentsia, the Christian community, the youth and even the international community. He has stood the test of time and weathered life threatening political storms. He is no saint, but very much marketable.

He can be the Zimbabwean “Adama Barrow’’ if given the chance.

Wilton Nyasha Machimbira is a political analyst, human rights defender and director for developmental research and consultancy. For feedback and comments can be contacted on