Nobleman Runyanga Correspondent
President Mnangagwa met with the 2018 presidential election candidates at State House on February 6, to lay the groundwork for national dialogue, which is aimed at forging unity to face the challenges that the country is facing as a united front.
MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa was conspicuous by his absence despite his recent shrill attention-seeking calls for dialogue.
Chamisa mistakenly thought that the event was only for himself since he thinks that the Zimbabwean opposition and, indeed, the whole of Zimbabwe revolves around him.
Misunderstanding or mischief?
Chamisa cited reasons such as the neutrality of the venue and the convenor of the meeting as his reasons for not attending.
It is clear that he either does not understand the nature and objectives of the national dialogue or his is mischievously seeking to abuse it to recover the power which the Zimbabwean electorate denied him on July 30, last year.
He seems to be misconstruing the President’s call for national dialogue as an invitation to settle what he terms President Mnangagwa’s illegitimacy.
The President has no illegitimacy issue to discuss as he won his term fair and square, a fact which was announced by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) and confirmed by the Supreme Court in August 2018.
Given this background, Chamisa’s actions are what the young would term “kurasa kunyepera network (pretending to have lost one’s marbles as a strategy to win or get something).”
Narrow and selfish interests
Chamisa’s insistence on the President meeting conditions such as using a neutral venue exposes his selfishness.
A few months ago when one of his deputies, Elias Mudzuri attended a Parliamentary event at the State House, the latter was booed by his fellow senior party members such as Kuwadzana legislator, Chalton Hwende for attending “a ZANU PF event.”
Realising that going to State House would invite subdued scorn among his inner circle, Chamisa chose to preserve his personal prode at the expense of national unity.
Going by Chamisa’s utterances, it is clear that what he wants is dialogue between him and the President. In September, last year President Mnangagwa made it clear that he would not just speak with one political party or politician.
“Zimbabwe is not owned by one political party or by one individual, anyone who can add value to the well-being of our country is welcome to the table,” he said.
In his own words, Chamisa wants to resolve the creature of his own mind — the legitimacy crisis — and discuss electoral reforms but everyone knows that what he is really looking to achieve is to come to an agreement for a national transitional authority (NTA) or a government of national unity (GNU) to accommodate him and his senior members into government.
What he is forgetting is that the circumstances that brought together his late predecessor, Morgan Tsvangirai and former President Robert Mugabe in 2009 are different from the current scenario so simply disputing an election result does not bring about a GNU.
The late Morgan Tsvangirai
Mugabe had won power through the June 27, 2008 run-off election which Tsvangirai had pulled out of citing violence.
President Mnangagwa won in an election whose pre-election season was characterised by peace and the opening of the democratic space, allowing Chamisa to chalk up over 80 rallies mostly in rural areas which were no-go areas before the new dispensation.
Realising that he could not wave the violence card, Chamisa is now using charges of a stolen election to get into power but the stakeholders who matter most such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU) have refused to buy the trash.
Following the State House meeting, which Chamisa rebuffed, the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) organised a churches dialogue prayer meeting which was held the following day at the Harare International Conference Centre.
It has since emerged that Chamisa’s wife, Sithokozile is the ZCC co-ordinator and is strongly suspected to have facilitated the bankrolling of the meeting to enable Chamisa to indulge his pettiness by holding a counter dialogue meeting.
This also demonstrated that he is not interested in dialogue for the nation’s sake, but to advance his own selfish agendas. Not serious about the national dialogue
To President Mnangagwa dialogue for national unity and national prosperity is not an afterthought that crossed his mind after Chamisa’s goat-headed insistence on the non-existent “stolen election” and “legitimacy crisis.”
When he came onto power in November 2017, he invited the opposition and other stakeholders to join him and his Government in rebuilding the country which had been riven by polarisation for nearly two decades. Even the “freedom of the rural areas” which Chamisa enjoyed was part of the President’s measures to ensure a free democratic environment ahead of the election.
Following his poll victory, the President on August 3, 2018, maintained his inclusiveness by inviting Chamisa to work with him fostering peace and unity for the country’s progress.
“To Nelson Chamisa I want to say, you have a crucial role to play in Zimbabwe’s present and its unfolding future, let us both call for peace and unity,” Chamisa however, spurned the invitation.
President Mnangagwa was not daunted. On September 21, 2018, he indicated his Government’s intention to create the position of Leader of the Opposition in parliament, a position which borrows from the British and Commonwealth. Chamisa initially responded by promising to evaluate the President’s offer but before the latter could make a formal offer, the opposition leader rejected it.
His spokesman Nkululeko Sibanda revealed that Chamisa wanted dialogue which would follow his own template that he termed a five-point plan.
“We have a five-point plan for a national dialogue that would help boost confidence in our political processes and in our economy; the problem is if (President) Mnangagwa does not listen,” said Sibanda. The February 6 State House meeting provided Chamisa with an opportunity to sell his five-point plan but he squandered it.
The reality on the ground
It is clear that Chamisa is not sincere about the national dialogue. He, however, should know that while it is his constitutionally-guaranteed right to fantasise about exploiting the process to land himself some form of power to silence his restive and impressionable youths, merely creating a non-existent legitimacy crisis does not cause one to exist. Wishes for a crisis cannot translate onto a crisis. He has sold the world the “stolen election” story for nearly seven months now and no one has taken him seriously.
Whatever machinations he may organise with the ZCC, other like-minded organisations and embassies, one truth cannot be wished away — that President Mnangagwa won the July 30 polls and that he is the President of Zimbabwe.
Therefore, whatever Chamisa thinks of himself, he cannot drive the national dialogue or dictate how it should be held. That he came second in the poll does not make him a special stakeholder.
He is a dyed-in-wool disciple of the Kenyan opposition figure, Raila Odinga from whom he even copied the silly and illegal self-inauguration.
He should also borrow Odinga’s unpopular-but-great decision to bury the hatchet for the good of the nation. After all, one cannot be fighting from August 2018 to July 2023.