Chamisa must stop tweeting aimlessly and recklessly… change in Zimbabwe won’t happen via social media

Nelson Chamsa
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In a speech delivered on December 13 at the Zanu-PF National Conference in Goromonzi, President Emmerson Mnangagwa advised ruling party delegates to ignore MDC-A and ‘G-40’ naysayers, stating, “They will tweet and tweet while we rule and rule.”

By Tafi Mhaka

Judging by the voluminous number of tweets unleashed by the opposition MDC-A leadership and exiled ‘G-40’ protagonists, since December, claiming a new day beckons, and considering the conversely corresponding silence on the streets, Mnangagwa made the right prediction.

Indeed, ‘they’ have been tweeting, endlessly.

And I am plain tired of reading their tweets.

With every rhetorical, sentimental, divine and jingoistic statement MDC-A president Nelson Chamisa publishes on Twitter, my fears about his emotional temperament, leadership skills and style grow in leaps and bounds.

I worry that he takes publishing emotional pronouncements on Twitter much too serious and underestimates the political juggernaut that Zanu-PF is.

And I am obliged to consider if Chamisa’s Twitter feed is an online extension of his laid-back, patient and passive persona.

I wonder whether he truly believes in the pervasive reach of social media in Zimbabwe or power of prayer to overwhelm Zanu-PF at the polls.

And I am worried he really is gutless, overly forgiving and sold on the idea that good men and women will always triumph over evil folks somehow, sometime.

And under the present circumstances, this utopian faith is cause for concern.

While spreading positivity on social media is unquestionably commendable, Chamisa is incredibly evasive on what he has done lately to help arrest Zimbabwe’s economic, political and humanitarian slide, what he will do to unseat Mnangagwa at the polls in 2023, or what he might do should he fail to achieve his specified goals.

Nevertheless, while Chamisa is stuck on disseminating information on Twitter, who will implore people to march against corruption, dwindling basic services and bad governance?

While Chamisa is satisfied with only publishing nationalist statements on Twitter, who will lead a people-centred campaign for urgent reforms?

Tendai Biti, Welshman Ncube or Lynnette Karenyi?

Or none of the above?

In his latest ‘massive’ Twitter offering, published on Sunday, Chamisa alleged Zimbabwe has ‘too many smart, educated and talented people to be in such a mess’.

But, it is.

It might not be obvious to Chamisa, but Zimbabwe is, what it is, and probably what it should be in 2020.

It is an existential reflection of the nation’s potential, capabilities and progress in 40 years.

And our slow-moving, unproductive political situation is a consummate representation of both Zanu-PF and the MDC-A’s largely lacklustre achievements in the last 20 years.

Anything to the contrary, is a figment of Chamisa’s imagination.

Lest we forget that intellect is relative to the task at hand and the really smart people in Zimbabwe are in power.

Yet that is not entirely the point.

Instead, this is: led by our wonderfully positive, sedentary and ever-tweeting MDC-A leadership, our wishfully impractical and subdued resistance to tyranny is.

Chamisa should know better than to defer to nationalistic rhetoric in troubled times.

Although it sounds rather magnificent, moving and patriotic, it is worthless, as firm resistance to authoritarian rule is what Zimbabwe needs.

Not more absolutely superb Twitter fairy tales.

Deflecting to Zimbabweans working abroad, how educated Zimbabweans are, what Zimbabwe should be, or indeed what Zimbabwe could be, only demonstrates major denial over our failure as a people.

Botswana, South Africa and Namibia have comparatively less educated people, but why are these southern African nations doing much better than Zimbabwe?

Why, unlike Zimbabwe, do they manage to hold elections peacefully and change leaders consistently?

Why, unlike Zimbabwe, do their opposition leaders dare to fight for human, economic and political rights?

Zimbabwe’s ongoing crisis has plenty to do with a lack of strong leadership in both Zanu-PF and the MDC-A; a point, ironically, lost to Chamisa, who also claimed ‘Zimbabweans are running the world over’.

That is not a very smart thing to say.

Zimbabweans may be doing well abroad, but they don’t run ‘the world’.

Many have found refuge in countries where leaders often fight in the courts and on the streets.

They live, work and flourish in places where opposition leaders are routinely jailed for leading protests and defying unlawful government actions.

They live in countries where opposition leaders understand the limits of social media, don’t believe in their own propaganda and don’t call for change impulsively and without a well-defined plan of action to widely share.

Referring to political and economic change, Chamisa stated, “We must cause it to happen”.

Were it the first time Chamisa has said something like this on Twitter, this statement would have been heaven-sent.

But he has repeatedly said this since 2018.

Over. And.

Over. Again.

And done nothing.

He may be the leader of the opposition in a very tough environment, but strong leadership demands political intuition, action and hard sacrifices.

Indeed, Chamisa must desist from declaring change is a given.

It is not, especially after the ‘transformation’ that happened in November 2017.

So less Twitter rebellion from Chamisa and more time spent on earth expressing our profound dismay at government mismanagement, demanding change and giving Mnangagwa a hard time might just lead us somewhere.

I would love to often see Chamisa on the frontlines, marching for change, under arrest at Harare Central Police Station, detained at Harare Remand Prison or appearing in court on various trumped charges.

I would like to see him emulate MDC-A Vice-President Job Sikhala’s actions in St Mary’s, Chitungwiza.

And I would love to see Mnangagwa eat his words.

Go on, Nelson, don’t just tweet: get up and do something.

Tafi Mhaka is a Johannesburg-based writer and commentator. His debut novel, Mutserendende: The African in Us, is scheduled to be published in 2020. Follow him at @tafimhaka / tafi.mhaka