Former Opposition Leader Calls for Non-Violence Amid Electoral Dispute

Nelson Chamisa
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HARARE – Former opposition politician Nelson Chamisa has called on his supporters to refrain from using violence to pressure the ruling Zanu PF party into addressing the August 2023 electoral dispute.

Chamisa, who disputes President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s legitimacy due to alleged electoral fraud, emphasized seeking an amicable resolution to the political impasse.

Chamisa, the former leader of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), left the party he founded, citing infiltration by Zanu PF, but has vowed to remain active in politics. Amid speculation about his next move, including the potential formation of a new political party, Chamisa has kept his plans under wraps.

In his first public statement since his resignation, Chamisa stressed the importance of peaceful conflict resolution, describing Zimbabwe as “too beautiful and precious” to be marred by violence.

“Fellow citizens, may I hasten to say, following statutory procedures and peaceful means to resolve your issues is not a manifestation of weakness or that we are devoid of other ideas and means,” Chamisa stated. “It is our strict commitment to finding each other and amicably resolving our points of conflict, disjuncture, and disagreement. We have committed to a peaceful resolution of disputes and intend to exhaust all available peaceful remedies.”

Chamisa reiterated his call for dialogue with Mnangagwa to resolve the electoral dispute before the next elections in 2028. He emphasized that Zimbabwe cannot progress amid disunity and successive disputed national processes, including contested elections.

“Our beautiful country can never progress on the back of disunity and successive disputed national processes, including contested elections,” Chamisa said. “We are acutely aware of the urgency of this matter and more importantly that there can never be any talk of 2028 or a viable and stable future for this country without resolving August 2023, the broken past, and disputed politics.”

Chamisa has pinned his hopes on the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to intervene in the crisis, following the regional body’s criticism of the August 2023 polls. He revealed ongoing communication with Sadc regarding the electoral dispute.

“Meanwhile, we have noted the various meetings the leadership of Sadc has held, including the latest Extraordinary Summit of the Organ Troika on the 23rd of March 2024 in Lusaka, Zambia. Therefore, we have advisedly been patiently waiting on our request,” he said. “On the 29th of April, however, since considerable time has passed, yet we had sought to resolve this issue much earlier, we delivered our follow-up to Sadc for which we await a response to determine a clear path forward to resolve the governance crisis.”

Political commentator and Southern Africa programme head for the Institute for Security Studies, Piers Pigou, expressed skepticism about Zanu PF’s willingness to engage in dialogue.

“I don’t think he [Mnangagwa] would settle for dialogue. There is no political need to make this move (dialogue), as far as Zanu PF is concerned, they have won in the elections and they don’t agree with key aspects of reforms. There is a lot of positive thinking that exists within the ruling party but the individuals do not have the power to ensure that a policy commitment is made, or that there is accountability. That power lies in an elitist clique within Zanu PF,” Pigou said.

Despite the challenges, Chamisa remains committed to a peaceful resolution and urges his supporters to stay vigilant and maintain their commitment to non-violent means of addressing the political impasse.