Chamisa desperate to regain lost ground: Top analyst

THE MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is desperate for parliamentary and local council by-elections to be held as he has lost considerable ground and hopes to regain some credibility as Zimbabwe heads towards the 2023 national elections.

This analysis was said by Knox Chitiyo, an associate fellow at the UK-based Chatham House Africa Programme this week.

He was speaking on the Political Economy and Business Environment in Zimbabwe hosted by African Business.

Over 60 MPs and 80 councillors MDC Allaince were recalled from office by the rival MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora. The MDC-T said the public officers were no longer party members. Other MPs from Chamisa’s faction have also defected to join the MDC-T while scores of after senior party officials in Chamisa’s faction have left in a huff and joined the Zanu PF.

Chitiyo said the MDC Alliance had also been hit hard by Covid-19 as the opposition party was unable to hold public meetings and had in the process lost considerable support.

However, the academic admitted Chamisa still had considerable influence among the young urban community and, therefore, the opposition leader desperately needed by-elections to be held to drum up his support ahead of the 2023 elections.

Most of the MDC MPs and councillors who were recalled were elected in urban constituencies.

“General elections are scheduled for 2023. There are supposed to be by-elections, but because of Covid, we don’t know if and when they will happen. Chamisa is really desperate for by-elections because he feels he might win some and regain some credibility,” Chitiyo said.

“Overall, the Chamisa opposition has lost quite a lot of ground. It’s possible they might claw it back when Covid ends, but he’s got a lot of work to do.”

President Emmerson Mnangagwa last year banned the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) from holding by-elections as part of the government’s efforts to contain the spread of the deadly Covid-19 global pandemic.

Meanwhile, in his analysis, Chitiyo also doubted Mnangagwa’s continued grip on power as Zimbabwe’s leader due to high-level corruption in government, the fall of the local currency, and the involvement of senior military generals in the country’s civilian rule.

“There’s been corruption and issues around the extent to which foreign investors have been able to come in and remit their profits because Zimbabwe’s currency has been an issue. But overall, they have tried,” he said.

“The problem for Mnangagwa is that he was brought in by the military, he has to bear in mind the domestic and political agenda. The problem is that politics has been involved in Zimbabwe’s economy. The politics is always an undercurrent in the economy.”

Chitiyo added: “The fundamental political risk is that there are clearly tensions between Mnangagwa and his number two (Vice-President) Constantino Chiwenga. Those (tensions) seem to have been managed during Covid, but we’re not sure how that will play out. Mnangagwa is not young and come 2023, he’ll be over 80, so there’s the age question.

“(Relations with Chiwenga) may be managed or contained but we don’t know. With elections in Zimbabwe and the period after elections, things become very divisive.

“The elections themselves may be a bit of a risk. I wouldn’t want to exaggerate it and say we’re definitely heading for a bloody and confrontational period. I don’t know if that’s what we’re heading for, given the weakness of the opposition currently, but Managagwa’s age and the relationship between him and Chiwenga is a factor.” – Newzim