The so-called regional diplomatic offensive was triggered by President Ramaphosa’s imminent assumption of the African Union (AU) chairmanship this month. Not much was reported by the media in terms of the Chamisa-Ramaphosa supposed meeting.
All the attention drifted to the interviews Chamisa granted to three South African television stations —SABC, Newzroom Africa and the eNews Channel Africa (eNCA) — where he acquitted himself very dismally.
His bid to cast President Mnangagwa as the impediment in a bid to bring together political players to foster unity and put the nation in a position to face its various challenges as one people backfired spectacularly.
The politician ended up making a fool of himself before the world due to the way he responded to some of the questions posed to him.
First and foremost, many Zimbabweans were surprised that instead of joining other political leaders in the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) and engage the President with other opposition figures, Chamisa flew to South Africa to exert pressure on President Ramaphosa. It was hypocritical of Chamisa to travel to South Africa to seek solutions to challenges at home from a neighbour.
No hypocrisy surpasses that of a family member who travels to a neighbour’s compound seeking intervention and mediation in a family problem involving a brother who he is not recognising as his blood relative. Is it any wonder then that President Ramaphosa was not reported in the media as having entertained him?
This is because the region has been baby-sitting Zimbabwe for over a decade now and the first post-Mugabe poll ushered in a golden opportunity for Zimbabweans and the region to move on, which no one would want to miss.
Chamisa seems not to have an appreciation of the direction that Zimbabwean, the regional and continental politics are taking. Childish political tantrums no longer have any place in today’s regional politics, President Ramaphosa demonstrated. Sackur moments
During his interview with Newzroom Africa’s J.J Tabane, many people were reminded of Chamisa’s humiliating and embarrassing experiences at the hands of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) HardTalk programme presenter, Stephen Sackur in May 2018 as it became evident that the opposition leader was out of his depth.
He must have come face-to-face with the reality that his “mbovha yomufaro (moments of joy) political comedy which elicits frenzied applause from his followers at his rallies simply does not cut it in such serious interviews.
Nothing was more embarrassing as the moment he was asked whether or not he had ever phoned President Mnangagwa since the July 30, 2018 elections.
Chamisa said: “I’ve never tried to call him. It’s very difficult to find someone who cannot be found”.
Surely, which neighbouring president would entertain an opposition leader who is flatly refusing to speak to his own President? He can’t have his cake and eat it too.
Any outsider would ask Chamisa what he was seeking to achieve by visiting South Africa if it is not out of spite, anger and vengefulness whilst wilfully avoiding engaging President Mnangagwa if he had any issues.
Who would take Chamisa seriously when he confessed that he had not attempted to phone President Mnangagwa, yet he hollowly and shamelessly claimed that, “we’ll not shun opportunities of dialogue” in the same interview? Hoist by own petard It is clear that Chamisa has himself to blame.
Nearly one-and-a-half years later, he is still bitterly tethered to the election which Zimbabweans and the world have already put behind them as they face the beckoning 2023.
It is as interesting as it is funny that he travelled hundreds of kilometres to South Africa to seek assistance from that country’s President when President Mnangagwa stays in Harare where he also stays.
Chamisa’s bane and undoing is his refusal to recognise President Mnangagwa as the winner of the 2018 presidential election and the President of Zimbabwe. His dogged insistence that “we now have two (election) results in Zimbabwe: people’s results and constitutional court-validated results,” and that President Mnangagwa’s rule and tenure is illegitimate is the reason why Chamisa is increasingly cutting a lone figure in the country and in the region. He is coming eyeball-to-eyeball with the reality of his political irrelevance.
This is the reason why he is now clutching onto meaningless initiatives such as the so-called “five fights.” When all is said and done, the question that then arises is that if President Mnangagwa was illegitimate as Chamisa insists, why would he fly to neighbouring countries to seek assistance to speak to someone he does not recognise?
President Mnangagwa has made it clear that all engagement with opposition political players would be done through the POLAD platform which Chamisa despised as a grouping of Zanu PF surrogates and described as “Mr Mnangagwa’s choir”.
From the foregoing, it is evident that Chamisa’s impediment to dialogue with President Mnangagwa is no one except himself. He considers himself a special species of an opposition leader meriting special treatment. During one of the interviews, he dishonestly told the SABC’s Leanne Mannas that he was saddened that nearly two years after the poll, he was not able to speak with President Mnangagwa.
For as long as he remains full of not only himself, but also baseless bitterness he risks getting to 2023 way less relevant to the local political landscape than he was in 2018. Abusing South Africa
Chamisa had and still has the choice and opportunity to recognise President Mnangagwa and join POLAD, but he is misleading himself by thinking that he can use South Africa to force the President to a negotiating table without recognising him.
He mistakenly thinks he can sidestep POLAD using former South African President Thabo Mbeki as a stepping stone by threatening that “a burning Zimbabwe will result in the setting ablaze of the entire region.” It is gratifying to note that the South African government has refused to pander to Chamisa’s whims.
In any case, the Mbeki initiative which he is now pinning his hopes on was never his brainchild. Given that the region, the continent and the world have recognised President Mnangagwa’s electoral victory and administration, Chamisa’s political fortunes will continue to wane as he battles irrelevance born out of big-headedness.
This will cause and build frustration in him which will express itself in a propensity for violent protests in the name of forcing Government to attend to the prevailing socio-economic challenges.