By Takunda Maodza
There are some things you can ignore for a day, for a week, or even a month. But, when they keep repeating themselves, you are forced to react. It is now hard to ignore him sink deep under, before our eyes. History will callously judge us for lack of humanitarianism – itself the heart of hunhu or ubuntu-ism. I am talking about Nelson Chamisa. He must enter and exit the 2018 harmonised elections with dignity – hate him or like him.
At 40, Nelson has achieved a lot for someone of his age. He is a lawyer, a pastor and not an ordinary MDC-T card-carrying member but its president – ignore the unceremonious manner he succeeded Mr Morgan Tsvangirai – and an aspiring Presidential candidate in the harmonised elections. It is no mean feat by any measure. Chamisa dribbled past academic and political obstacles with such zeal and speed that is easily charming. He has done so with the ease of a hot knife cutting through margarine, wooing even foes in the MDC-T Alliance, who now rally behind him by the day while nicodemously escorting him to his political grave. I mean the political vultures within the MDC-T Alliance, who know pretty well that they have entrapped Chamisa and it will be a miracle this time around if the hare escapes the snare.
What do I mean? Without Kuwadzana and the national presidency, Chamisa is twice dead. The Judas Iscariots at the high table clapping hands when he degenerates from puerile-ism to pwere-ism at MDC-T rallies know pretty well they are about to inherit a mammoth political infrastructure left behind by Mr Tsvangirai. This has always been their target. Why on earth would they allow Chamisa to put his foot in his mouth day in day out without restraining him?
Remember when Grace Mugabe started insulting higher offices at the Chiweshe rally? Those who loved her husband, Robert Mugabe, are said to have whispered in his ear to counsel the then First Lady as she was undoing his legacy. That Mugabe did not listen to advice is proven by where he is today. Those pretending to love and support Chamisa do not seem keen on advising him on what to say when on the podium.
In fact, they cheer him on, yet when they themselves address the same gatherings, they assume statesmanship and speak sense, tapping into the experience garnered when they held influential positions in the inclusive Government – which saw them criss-crossing global corridors of power. They turn spectators as Chamisa pledges his 18-year-old sister – whatever her name – to a political rivalry in the name of President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
This is on top of the spaghetti roads, bullet trains and rural airports Chamisa is promising the electorate in the event of a win. Of course, all these promises are jokes and the electorate ought not to read much into them save the playfulness of our baby-man or man-baby. By the way, humour is an arsenal which if deployed with precision produces beneficially lethal results. In an authoritarian political set-up – as was the situation before Operation Restore Legacy – the oppressed turned to humour to mock authority in a deadly soft war.
Remember when then president Mugabe “broke the fall” at the then Harare International Airport on his way from an African Union summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia? Do you remember how the nation mocked his authority by satirising his fall? Such is the potential of humour but it loses its vitality when Nelson pledges his teenage sister to a political rival.
“If Mnangagwa wins five percent in a free election, I will give him my sister. I have a sister who just turned 18 and looking for a husband. I am betting on this because I know it won’t happen,” Chamisa told MDC-T supporters and onlookers in Bedford in the United Kingdom last weekend.
It is not the first time that Chamisa has objectified and commodified women. In the previous harmonised elections he pulled a shocker. It was at an open space adjacent to Mkoba Teachers’ College in Gweru. It was after Tsvangirai had addressed a rally that Chamisa – who then was the organising secretary – took to the podium.
Chamisa started by mocking journalists in the State media after noticing Reuben Barwe of the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation and myself. He said our days were numbered as a new Government led by Tsvangirai was winning the election and taking over leadership of the country, adding, “muchaedzerwa sevaroyi”.
The gathering laughed and cheered him on. He dropped the bomb “kana Mnangagwa akahwina Zibagwe ndomupa mukadzi wangu”.
At that time, President Mnangagwa was vying for the Zibagwe constituency on a zanu-pf ticket. President Mnangagwa won convincingly. Chamisa still has his wife. That five years later, he still views women in those terms speaks volumes about his regard for them. It probably explains why he has viciously wrestled power from Thokozani Khupe after Tsvangirai’s death. It might also explain why Khupe was manhandled at Humanikwa Village in Buhera during Tsvangirai’s burial when rowdy youths – probably under the influence of Cannabis savita – wanted to roast her alive.
Chamisa immediately claimed to have set up a team to investigate the violence but to date only God knows what happened to the findings and the perpetrators of the violence. When the nation expected Chamisa and the MDC-T to announce the findings on the madness that happened in Buhera, more violence was unleashed on the hapless Khupe in Bulawayo in March this year which left her supporters badly injured and vehicle damaged. We have not heard any action that was taken by Chamisa and the MDC-T to end the culture of violence entrenched in the opposition party besides apportioning blame on State apparatus.
One would be for forgiven for concluding that maybe, naturally, Chamisa lacks respect for women and, if so, considering his unbridled political ambitions, it is probably time he sought counselling or risk being an outright sexist. Why would a learned Chamisa – who in the house of the Lord is a pastor with a renowned church and in the legal chambers is an advocate – see nothing positive in his teenage sister besides marrying her off to a man over four times her age?
It speaks volumes about his regard for his own sister. But when you then consider that he, five years ago, pledged his own wife to the same man, it is worryingly, highly and intolerably sexist of him to reduce women to nothing but tradeable products like oranges and tomatoes when they should be worth much more than gold. He has probably decided to commit political suicide in denigrating a constituency from which he desperately needs votes.
Assuming he is naturally a man of humour, it is probably time he deploys his humour against his political rivals in a manner that steals votes from them than miss the trees for the forest.
What is even more shocking is the silence by non-governmental organisations that pretend to advocate for women’s rights. “Thingfying” women is inexcusable inasmuch as it is highly deragatory and vexatiously irresponsible for one eyeing the esteemed throne. Much is expected of Chamisa as an opposition leader considering the too many hats he wears – a man of God, a lawyer and an MDC-T president. Those hats you wear Nelson go with decorum and politesse beyond doubt – and it is about time you graduate from puerile-ism and pwere-ism to a respectable opposition leader who can offer alternative views on building our nation.