A Zimbabwean politician has been publicly outed for his name-dropping claims.
Campaigning has resulted in many audacious statements by politicians as Zimbabweans prepare to vote in parliamentary and presidential elections, which were on Wednesday gazetted for July 30. But none have led to the virtual whipping meted out to Nelson Chamisa, from the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), who is challenging incumbent President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Chamisa said at an MDC rally in Beitbridge on Saturday that he influenced Rwanda’s telecommunications policy to the point that the East African country has “never been the same”.
Rwanda’s president Paul Kagame – who is active on social media and has clout with 1.8-million followers on Twitter – was unimpressed.
Chamisa, 40, served as Minister of Information Communication Technology (ICT) during Zimbabwe’s inclusive government between 2009-2013.
Armed with that resume, he boldly claimed to have inspired Rwanda’s ICT policy after he rubbed shoulders with Kagame at an international conference.
“Look what my brother Paul Kagame is doing for his country. I helped him on his ICT policy, on how to turn around the country when we met in Geneva, Switzerland, and he was happy with my presentation. He [Kagame] asked and inquired about me from former president Robert Mugabe,” Chamisa said, adding that with his assistance, “Rwanda has never been the same; it has changed completely.”
Chamisa’s assertions have been challenged by Kagame on twitter:
One Twitter user responded by posting a picture of a youthful Chamisa greeting Kagame at the said conference, in a bid to minimise the damage.
The tactic may have backfired, however, as it generated even more of a buzz, with comments like this from Zvikomborero Nyika: “Do not put this out of context. He says he met Kagame and he ‘helped’ him. So Kagame forgot the man who helped him with his ICT policy or he forgot a youngster he once complimented?”
This was the second time a Chamisa claim has been disputed. In December last year, after a trip to the United States undertaken by the MDC alliance, he claimed that they met American president Donald Trump who promised them $15 billion to revive the economy if his party won the presidential poll.
The United States, through embassy spokesperson David Macguire in Harare, responded that they don’t “make such promises to individuals or political parties”.
Name dropping is not new in Zimbabwean politics. Zanu-PF claims that if Jesus were alive he would be a member of the party and voting for the party is fulfilling God’s will. Luckily for them, his response is yet to come.