EVENTS that followed the death of former MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who succumbed to colon cancer on February 14, showed that his successor Nelson Chamisa certainly embodies the public appeal and traction that is quintessential to reinvigorating the opposition movement.
Candid Comment Faith Zaba
Since controversially taking over the reins of the party last month, he has managed to re-energise the MDC-T. The young leader is generating a lot of hype among potential voters in the forthcoming presidential election, which was beginning to appear like a one-man race for Zanu PF leader Emmerson Mnangagwa.
Chamisa’s appeal has been bolstered by his charisma and age. At 40, he faces Mnangagwa (75) in the electoral ring, possibly in July.
Given that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission statistics show that 60% of 5,3 million registered voters are aged between 18 and 40, Chamisa has leverage over his major nemesis, Mnangagwa. However, his appeal has not been matched by his election campaign messaging.
So far the campaign packaging is pathetic. Despite the so-called charisma, he leaves a lot to be desired when addressing rallies. Recently, he was left with egg on his face after the United States embassy in Harare dismissed his claims that US President Donald Trump had promised to provide US$15 billion to MDC-T, in case it wins the elections.
Other fanciful promises made by Chamisa include solving the acute cash crunch within two weeks. Chamisa told party supporters at an MDC Alliance rally in Chinhoyi at the weekend that his party would also build a new rail system with bullet trains between Harare and Bulawayo.
Chamisa should know there is a huge gulf between student and national politics.
The electorate expects concrete and realistic propositions from him, especially geared towards improving livelihoods.
Critical issues include the provision of decent jobs, affordable healthcare, as well as education and not fairytales.
Chamisa also spoke about building a gas pipeline from Lupane to Mozambique, when that country has one of the biggest natural gas reserves, which it is already tapping.
Why would he focus on bullet trains, whose provision requires billions of dollars in an economy with a US$4 billion budget? You cannot even imagine bullet and undergrounds trains in this economic environment where roads are littered with potholes. He needs mentoring to exhibit maturity in his approach.
Zimbabweans are no longer fascinated by ancient politicking, characterised by rhetoric. The electorate definitely yearns for politicians who address matters concerning how government intends to rejuvenate the state of the economy and infrastructural development. Chamisa should be articulating key policy issues and become electable.
If he continues on this path, he risks squandering the goodwill which he had been shown. The campaign is going to be long and competitive. He cannot afford to stumble at this early stage.
He must be articulate and consistent if he is to win the will of the masses.