Smarting from a numbing election loss, MDC Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa is trying to form a new political party and is being advised in the endeavour by, among others, self-exiled G40 hard liner Professor Jonathan Moyo.
Prof Moyo fled Zimbabwe last year after his faction’s capture of then President Mr Robert Mugabe was ended by a combination of a military intervention, mass demonstrations and a Parliamentary impeachment process.
Since then the ousted G40 faction of Zanu-PF has been pushing Mr Chamisa’s agenda. Prior to the June 30 harmonised elections, Mr Mugabe and Mr Chamisa publicly stated they were working together to defeat President-elect Emmerson Mnangagwa.
The Sunday Mail has it on good authority that after senior figures in the opposition accepted the Constitutional Court’s rejection of Mr Chamisa’s election petition on Friday, hawkish advisors — among them Prof Moyo — convinced the losing Presidential candidate to take a different approach.
Apart from pushing Mr Chamisa to form a proper party, they also want him to incite street protests as part of the stated plan of “making Zimbabwe ungovernable”.
Mr Chamisa headed an uneasy coalition of parties in the harmonised elections, and he does not have a defined structure of his own after he aborted a court case in which he was fighting for control of MDC-T with Dr Thokozani Khupe.
Yesterday Mr Chamisa attempted to call an MDC-T national council meeting that would set the tone for formation of a new party but failed to attract sufficient numbers. The national council would also have endorsed Mr Chamisa as leader of the opposition, with power to appoint all his top officials while side lining internal rivals without going to congress.
When that failed, he addressed a media conference and incited Zimbabweans to protest the election outcome, adding that people should disregard earlier statements by senior opposition figures who had accepted the outcome of the failed ConCourt challenge.
He said, “It is clear that the legal route has led us to a dead end; a dead end in the context of the result that has come out of that court. That result that does not in our view accord with the legitimate case that we did put before the court.
“Needless to say, ladies and gentlemen, I want to reconfirm and confirm our position that yes, we respect the court, the Constitutional Court; but not only that, it is a court that is expected by all of us who are law abiding to respect issues of law and constitutionalism.
“But also as myself being concerned, I am an officer of the court and being an officer of the court I am alive of my professional code which is to respect the views and decisions of the court.
“But it is also important for me to note that in understanding that in respecting the decision of the Constitutional Court do not by definition mean accepting it.
“You can respect but not agree with the constitutional court and I respectfully disagree and reject the position that was arrived at by the Constitutional Court…”
He went on: “It’s actually a constitutional right which we have not exercised over the past few days on account of examining and executing the constitutional route. Now that door is shut, there are many other doors; that section 59 door of political protest is just one of them, peaceful protest.
“We know that there is the temptation by Zanu-PF to come and then start to cause violence when we call for peaceful demonstrations we want to deal with that challenge so that when we go into demonstrations it is entirely controlled by ourselves.”
Despite the ConCourt highlighting glaring weaknesses in his poll challenge, Mr Chamisa insisted he had evidence of “rigging”, saying: “We have those specifics and we are ready to then distribute them at the appropriate time.”
Before that media conference, MDC Alliance insiders had told The Sunday Mail that “G40 captured Mr Chamisa before the elections and it has only gotten worse”.
“He is listening to a clique of hard liners, and most worrying is the involvement of discredited individuals like Jonso (Prof Moyo). They are the ones pushing him to reject the court results and try to trigger violence in the hope that the international community will intervene.
“They think this will pressure ED into a GNU (Government of national unity). But they don’t understand how Zanu-PF thinks. You will not make Zanu-PF do something by being illogically confrontational,” one official said.
Another added, “Jonathan has told Chamisa that he is in danger of being homeless if he doesn’t quickly form a proper party. Chamisa is feeling the heat and in his desperation he is listening to hardliners.”
On Friday, the divisions played out publicly when Mr Chamisa’s spokesperson, Dr Nkululeko Sibanda, and former spin doctor Mr Luke Tamborinyoka issued — from the same email address — contradictory statements on ConCourt ruling.
While Mr Tamborinyoka, who signed off as the party’s director of communications, said they respected the ConCourt ruling, Dr Sibanda rejected it outright.
Earlier, Mr Chamisa’s top ally Mr Charlton Hwende took to microblogging site Twitter to urge people to accept the outcome.
He retweeted President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s statement calling on Mr Chamisa to put the nation first.
“With a heavy heart we must accept the decision by the Constitutional Court as a law abiding party. We pray for peace and unity in our country.
‘‘We all have just one country Zimbabwe. ‘The people must have one vision and the people shall govern. Good night Zimbabwe.’”
Yesterday, Dr Sibanda told The Sunday Mail that: “(Mr Chamisa) has no dispute with Khupe. Khupe is a failed politician who got less than 40 000 votes. The (MDC Alliance) president is under no pressure, he got over two million votes; he has got the support of the people.”
Asked about the failure to call a national council meeting, Dr Sibanda said: “(Mr Chamisa) has over two million supporters, he can raise any numbers he wants.” – Sunday May