By addressing concerns about a runoff scenario, Chamisa has showcased his leadership qualities and strategic foresight, reassuring voters of his commitment to decisive victory in the first round against the incumbent Emmerson Mnangagwa.
He has also severed ties with Tsvangirai’s tone of telling Zimbabwe Electoral Commission officials to “do the noble thing and resign” before the election results are announced. This departure creates a sense of job security on election management officials in the event Chamisa wins.
His plea to the election management board to remain impartial might be significant in dealing with fears of possible rigging, identity card duplication and delayed electoral matches (the so-called playing a match ine bhora rakagohwa kare, in Shona lexicology).
Engaging regional actors and international support
Chamisa’s adept engagement of regional actors within the Sadc region has solidified his campaign’s legitimacy and global appeal. He didn’t just take a whirlwind tour but aired views on election reforms and equal electoral field that were publicised to the voting masses on the social and broadcasting media.
With some diaspora voters saying they would walk from Cape Town in South Africa to Harare to vote, Chamisa brings hope to economic refugees and even those perceived to be in political or some self-imposed exile.
Although he has faced scepticism and criticism, such as from South Africa and ruling African National Congress secretary-general Fikile Mbalula’s labelling him an American puppet, Chamisa’s alliances have positioned him as a candidate of choice for those seeking a transformative change in Zimbabwe.
Mbalula’s statements were even watered down by Chamisa’s popular interviews on why he could be Zimbabwe’s new wine on SABC News.
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His Sadc tour is likely to be bolstered by Saviour Kasukuwere’s recent involvement of the Sadc to ensure the incumbent president is not given an unfair advantage.
By collaborating with international observers and securing international support, Chamisa has established a robust network that bolsters his campaign’s credibility.
The populist persona: A double-edged sword
Chamisa’s charismatic and populist appeal is both an asset and a challenge. While his popularity and captivating rhetoric have galvanised the masses, there is a delicate balance to be struck.
Chamisa’s campaign must navigate the fine line between populist promises and pragmatic policy proposals, ensuring that his appeal remains grounded in realistic solutions that resonate with voters.
Powerful elites in the world always succeed by divide and rule, using tools like fear and paranoia.
Chamisa has dwelt a lot on fears of political assassination or food poisoning.
While Mnangagwa is now cut off from direct intelligence briefing as a civilian president constitutionally, Chamisa shouldn’t forget that Mnangagwa is a soldier, former guerilla and intelligence expert.
Chamisa needs solidarity, the basic human connection we can all have with one another. He can get this from the likes of Tendai Biti, who is also loved in earnest by the masses.
If we remember that solidarity is the magic weapon to achieve political change, even if we don’t look the same, we doubtlessly all become stronger. Ultimately, we’re each other’s security.
Chamisa’s strategic playbook: Safeguarding democracy and ensuring fair elections
We indicated above that there is a historical parallel between Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections and the 1956 United States elections.
As such, drawing inspiration from President Dwight D Eisenhower’s approach in the 1956 US election, Chamisa can adopt a similarly strategic playbook to ensure that Zanu PF does not rig the election, security institutions remain impartial, and his campaign team and polling agents maximize its chances of victory.
Tapping into the expertise of individuals like Biti can further bolster Chamisa’s efforts in securing a successful outcome in the 2023 elections. Here’s how:
Firstly, Chamisa needs to pitch calls for transparency and international observers.
Emulating Eisenhower’s emphasis on transparency and inviting reputable international observers to monitor the electoral process closely would create a sense of security in rural and urban voters.
Secondly, Chamisa can echo Eisenhower’s focus on unity and inclusion by promoting a cohesive national vision.
By rallying different factions and demographics under a common cause, he can minimise divisions and encourage security institutions to maintain their impartiality, contributing to a fair election process.
This article was written before Chamisa’s manifesto or blueprint which was presented this week.
Thirdly, Chamisa should tap into how Eisenhower’s international stature played a role in the 1956 election.
Similarly, Chamisa’s popular candidacy at home and beyond can leverage his connections with regional and global allies to garner support and pressure for a transparent and electoral process beyond negative pitches like, “this Karanga boy won’t win, chine vene, Zimbabwe is different from Zambia, or you only win when the army is on your side.’
Five, Biti’s visible involvement can be pivotal in ensuring fair elections. Chamisa can utilise Biti’s legal expertise and political acumen to establish strategic alliances that monitor and challenge any irregularities.
Biti can co-ordinate with domestic and international legal bodies to respond swiftly to any attempts at rigging.
In this, Eisenhower’s comprehensive approach to ensuring a fair election can guide Chamisa in safeguarding remote polling agents.
By employing modern technology and effective communication channels, Chamisa’s campaign can ensure that agents are protected, and their reports of irregularities are promptly recorded and addressed in a manner that would trash endorsements from Political Actors Dialogue players.
To prevent undue influence, Chamisa can take a proactive stance against superstitious practices, like Eisenhower’s efforts to debunk unfounded accusations.
His campaign can promote awareness and education, ensuring that voters make informed decisions and are not swayed by baseless beliefs.
Monitoring electoral security institutions is one giant step that Chamisa can employ to advocate for security institutions’ non-partisanship.
Furthermore, engaging security personnel through dialogue and emphasising their role in upholding democracy can mitigate their potential influence on the election.
He needs to do more than just exerting pressure on Zanu PF to ensure a free and fair election process.
Cumulatively, his pluses in Zimbabwe’s 2023 elections form a constellation of factors that position him as a formidable contender for the nation’s highest office.
From harnessing the power of alternative media to forging a vision of unity and inclusive governance, Chamisa’s campaign embodies the aspirations of a nation yearning for change.