The brutality experienced by him and his colleagues in the opposition and their supporters, particularly in the run-up to the 2008 election, resonated like a dark cloud. But the excitement he has felt about he and his colleagues being able to show ordinary Zimbabweans what it could be like to live in a just and democratic country still drives him.
After the particularly bloody 2008 election, which was a close race, there was supposed to be a runoff. However, Tsvangirai declined it as he felt the people and the economy could not suffer any longer and reluctantly entered into a government of national unity (GNU) with Zanu-PF.
The move echoed that made by Joshua Nkomo in 1987, in the wake of the Gukurahundi, in which 20,000 of his people were slaughtered by government forces. He, too, entered into a unified government to save his people.
The GNU that saw Tsvangirai become president gave Zimbabweans some welcome respite and under Tendai Biti, the minister of finance who dollarised the economy, education minister David Coltart and others, Zimbabwe was, for a few years, stable and moving forward.
Chamisa served in the GNU as minister of information and communication technology. But it was not easy. Before he died, Tsvangirai told me that having to deal with former president Robert Mugabe was like “supping with the devil — he was pure evil”. By 2013, before the next election, which also appeared dodgy, but was given the seal of approval by the SADC and the AU, the honeymoon was over.
When one takes Chamisa’s experience and qualifications into account, he is well qualified to be the president of Zimbabwe and, in 2018, it looked as through his time had come, but unexpected factors got in the way.
“We were excited because as counting ended at individual polling stations and polling agents agreed each tally and signed and recorded the V11 forms that are supposed to be posted outside each station, we were sure we had done it. As usual, we sent each result to party headquarters, the observer missions and to the ZEC (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) command centre.
“Suddenly, when it was clear that the MDC Alliance was winning, the ZEC command centre announced that the V11 forms should not be posted outside the stations.
“The results are supposed to be in real time”, he explained.
“There is a combination of a manual platform and a digital platform, so when the results are received, they are supposed to be submitted to the command centre to collate the results.
“But the 2018 election deviated from the norm”, Chamisa said. They counted the votes for the presidential vote constituency by constituency across the country, instead of using the total. They wanted to establish the trend. And when they realised they had lost the election, they announced that the signed V11 forms should not be posted outside the stations. The ZEC then deployed people to the various centres, where we assume there were all sorts of interferences.”