HomeOpinionWill Zimbabwe embrace Chamisa’s ‘new politics’?

Will Zimbabwe embrace Chamisa’s ‘new politics’?


POLITICS is, undoubtedly, an ugly game.

In the last few months, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC), formed recently, made a “beautiful” agog entry into Zimbabwean politics.

That kind of agog was last experienced more than two decades ago.

The last time Zimbabweans were so excited about a new political outfit was when the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) was formed under the leadership of Morgan Tsvangirai.

Over the years, the MDC has been rocked by internal squabbles leading to its demise. This led to the formation of CCC led by Nelson Chamisa. The celebrated entry by CCC, capped by an impressive performance in the March 26 by-elections, is under threat as the “ugly” emerges, barely five months after its formation.

The gusto that earned Chamisa 19 parliamentary seats in the by-elections is under threat.

Lurking behind are questions on Chamisa’s reluctance to hold an elective congress to choose party leaders.

Zimbabweans are divided over the issue.

And with Chamisa keeping his cards close to his chest, the silence has courted mixed feelings in the country.

The issue has not been made easy by the voices raised from the vanquished Zanu PF’s G40 faction.

Exiled former ministers Jonathan Moyo and Walter Mzembi lead the charge calling for Chamisa to hold elections.

Moyo called for CCC to hold a special congress to launch itself, a new constitution, structures, leadership and election manifesto.

Chamisa insists that all party members will hold interim positions while the party consults Zimbabweans.

There are, however, fears the CCC would tarnish its image as a vanguard of democracy if it maintains its stance.

Dismissing the assertions, CCC spokesperson Fadzayi Mahere told the Zimbabwe Independent that they were introducing a new political doctrine adding that the CCC leadership was intent on revolutionising politics in Zimbabwe.

“We urge the citizens not to expect old ways from these new wineskins. We commit to doing things differently. Expect the new,” Mahere declared.

The CCC, according to Mahere, is a citizens’ project that carries new values, a new political culture, a new thinking, and a new way of community organisation.

“What this means is that the old processes that have punctuated our politics in the past including Soviet-style congresses, anti-democratic structures, and unnecessary divisions are a thing of the past,” she said.

Mahere said the CCC is introducing citizens-led and grassroots-driven decision-making processes.

“The people are being consulted so that we don’t impose our ideas on them. Rather, the citizens must own their movement,” she said, adding that the political outfit would roll out all mechanisms at the appropriate time.

Mahere dismissed reports of confusion within the CCC calling on supporters to trust the process.  Chamisa, she argued, was putting in place systems to “ensure that the people’s movement is not derailed by third parties or the autocratic regime that seeks to maintain the status quo.

“This means that our priority is to win Zimbabwe for change and form the next government next year. We are focused on intensive nationwide voter mobilisation and voter registration exercise,” Mahere added.

But critics say Chamisa’s stance on congress makes CCC a collection of friends deploying each other into positions.

Political analyst Alexander Rusero said outside the availability of financial resources, all CCC arguments were “hypocritical and politically unsubstantiated”.

“You don’t wage a broader democratic struggle outside before you exhibit the same from within.

“The fact that we continue having increased noise from all quarters tells you it’s more than a Zanu PF agenda; there is silent internal disgruntlement on the matter and only an elective congress puts that to rest,” Rusero said.

South Africa-based political commentator Ricky Makonza buttressed the argument by questioning why the party was avoiding congress.

“I am not convinced by these two arguments. If the division is there it will still be there with or without the holding of the congress. If it’s infiltration, it will exist whether the party holds its congress or not,” Makonza said.

“It would have been ideal to ensure that the party lays a solid foundation in terms of its democratic credentials based on an elected leadership. Including the position of President Chamisa.”

However, another SA-based political analyst Trust Matsilela said political organisations are voluntary entities and parties decide when to hold congresses.

“CCC like any other body is not mandated to hold a congress at a date prescribed by opponents but when the party feels it’s imperative to. Zanu PF is yet to hold credible internal elections or an open congress since 1980, members of the Politburo are appointed by the leader,” Matsilela said although Zanu PF has held many such congresses.

This, therefore, brings us to the arguments raised by academic Sabelo  Gatsheni-Ndlovu, in a 2012 paper titled Elections in Zimbabwe: A Recipe for Tension or a Remedy for Reconciliation?

Gatsheni-Ndlovu concluded that, indeed, elections have been a recipe for tension, violence and death.

Could, Chamisa’s hesitancy be informed by the argument that elections and politics, in their ugliness, could divide his party.

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