If there is any Zimbabwean politician who reads religiously Niccolò Machiavelli’s “bible”, The Prince, it has to be MDC-Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
Chamisa has personified Machiavelli’s imagery of the lion and the fox. Like the fox, at face value Chamisa — a former church pastor — is a peace-loving, law-abiding democrat with the interests of the people at heart.
In reality, Chamisa has come down hard on anyone challenging his authority. Former MDC-T vice president Dr Thokozani Khupe and secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora will testify to having seen Chamisa’s teeth. Chamisa the lion has unleashed violence both within and outside the MDC.
Says Machiavelli: “The lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognise traps, and a lion to frighten wolves.”
As a fox, Chamisa has worked hard to appear to the world as merciful, faithful, humane, pious and upright. As a lion, Chamisa is a feared, brutal leader with a firm grip on power.
Chamisa has used the Vanguard, a deadly paramilitary outfit, to affirm himself as the only centre of power in the MDC following the death of Mr Morgan Tsvangirai on February 14 last year. In the run up to the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections, Chamisa made it very clear that he would only accept one result — a Chamisa victory. Any other result, the main opposition leader declared, would result in massive violent protests that would make the country “ungovernable”.
During a press conference in the capital on August 3, Chamisa played the lion and fox game by dismissing violence on the one hand, but threatening the same on the other: “We do not believe in violence even if we have the capacity to resort to arms.”
Chamisa also described as “stupid”, protests by hordes of party supporters who took to the streets on August 1 to demand the announcement of final election results. This is despite the fact that during the period leading up to the poll, Chamisa repeatedly urged party followers to “defend” their vote.
We are reminded of the shrewd fox and ferocious lion following our report yesterday of violence having reared its ugly head once again within MDC-Alliance after supporters clashed over the weekend during their district congresses held countrywide.
Several supporters were arrested while others sustained injuries. The disturbances come amid reports of power struggles with members aligned to Chamisa targeting Mwonzora’s supporters, ahead of their elective congress scheduled for next month.
The major tiff stemmed from Mwonzora’s open declaration that he wanted to challenge Mr Chamisa for the post of party president.
Cases of violence were reported in Chitungwiza, Masvingo, Chegutu, Sanyati and Norton, with national police spokesperson Assistant Commissioner Paul Nyathi confirming receiving the reports and arrests having been made.
A local civic society organisation, Heal Zimbabwe Trust, has already called upon opposition MDC members to cease all acts of violence against fellow party members during the run up to the May Congress.
Heal Zimbabwe issued a statement after violent incidents were reported to have occurred in various places where MDC members were voting for their preferred candidates. The current violence is like déjà vu: In February 2018 Dr Khupe, together with Mwonzora and deputy organising secretary Abednico Bhebhe, were attacked at the burial of Mr Tsvangirai, after she claimed she was the legitimate successor.
In May the same year, rowdy supporters of the Chamisa-led MDC-T faction hurled insults and threatened to manhandle Dr Khupe outside the Supreme Court following a hearing into their dispute of the ownership of the party’s name.
Who dares stand in the way of Chamisa, the “lion of opposition politics” in Zimbabwe?
Unlike the gullible Heal Zimbabwe, we do not believe that this cunning fox can heed to any call for peace and indeed, democracy. Like a leopard, Chamisa cannot change his spots.
We, however, believe that MDC-Alliance supporters can choose not to be used. Again, we quote Machiavelli who advised the Prince saying: “It is necessary to know well how to disguise this characteristic, and to be a great pretender and dissembler; and men are so simple, and so subject to present necessities, that he who seeks to deceive will always find someone who will allow himself to be deceived.”
Now is the time for MDC-Alliance supporters to stop being deceived. Now is the time to build the Zimbabwe we want. Violence and other forms of barbarism must be left in the past, in the First Republic.
We can disagree in peace and elect leaders of our choice without dismembering each other.
We ask MDC-Alliance supporters to ask themselves only one question.
If Chamisa is so brutal now, what can he do with real power?