Former US president Richard Nixon once said that one must never be satisfied with losing. He said that after losing one should get terribly angry at losing. He goes on to say that “the mark of the good loser is that he takes his anger out on himself and not on his victorious opponents or his teammates”. If one would deploy artistic licence they would add that one should also not take their anger of losing on the referee too.
Elections have come and gone. The people have spoken. We are now dealing with the aftermath in which one of the losers has lost all forms of grace and is coping and pasting the Raila Odinga template on being a sore loser. He wants to make so much noise until he shares power with the winners. But this writer believes that is the wrong way of going about it.
Nelson Chamisa should accept national institutions like ZEC, which he helped to constitute. He should concede defeat and congratulate the winner first before any other option can be considered.
It is only when Chamisa consents to Government’s authority that we can even begin to talk of an inclusive Government. Why should President Mnangagwa have someone in his Government who won’t recognise his magnanimity for what it is but instead will claim entitlement? If Chamisa wants to take his position in Zimbabwe’s politics, he should consent to ED Government’s authority.
These elections have conferred legitimacy on President Mnangagwa. There are those arguing for some kind of national consensus with the main losers. But if a national consensus has to be built, it has to be based on the statesmanship of the winner not on some misplaced entitlement. It is him who has the legitimacy; it is him who can invite others into his Government. There is very little to negotiate with anyone. One cannot be part of institutions from which they are withholding their consent.
Nelson’s Chamisa’s hoodlums initially tried terrorism and it did not work. That is what we call burning cars, smashing up buildings and petrol-bombing cars, patrolling the streets with iron bars and machetes and hacking ZEC computers trying to contaminate results. All these terrorist acts ended in the tragic death of civilians. They have retreated and now they are going for elite sabotage of the current Government. Then some claim President Mnangagwa is presiding over a divided nation and should share power!
The people who are dividing our country are those that abuse their supporters’ partisan affiliation. This is the same partisan affiliation that made some of them see little reason when it was suggested subliminally that they make our country ungovernable. Nelson Chamisa and his acolytes franchised distorted perceptions and narratives to their supporters that the elections had been manipulated.
The fact of the matter is that there are many party supporters who are suggestible. The suggestion to make the country ungovernable found some foolish takers who rushed to riot before the foreign media and observers left the country. We know the rest. The MDC-Alliance were primed for violence and to cause mayhem upon the land from the word go. It was either their way or the high- way.
Democratisation of the country means enabling citizens to have a voice. What we are seeing is the taking away of the citizens’ voice and the one doing that should not be included in any government.
What we witnessed on Wednesday August 1 2018 was an attempt to turn the MDC-Alliance into some form of UNITA or Renamo. When people threaten to fight an elected Government without resorting to the court process, what message are they sending to their supporters? How does one explain violence on Wednesday morning after elections were only held on Monday? If Nelson Chamisa wants to be part of a consensus building effort in Zimbabwe then he should accept the sovereignty of the judiciary and bow to its authority to adjudicate electoral disputes.
But by choosing to withdraw the loser’s consent Chamisa is trying to put the country into a crisis mode. That futile effort is crumbling as Zimbabweans choose to rebuild their country whilst foreign media and observers are packing their kits and leaving for real hotspots. Not Zimbabwe.
Nelson Chamisa lost the harmonised elections fair and square and until he can communicate that to his supporters he should not be considered for any inclusive Government. We know this is what he really wants. This is not going to happen easily because he has worked himself into a corner. He realises that he let his grandiosity get the better of him and claimed fraud where there was none but now is in a place where he can’t retreat. He has to lose in court for him to bring closure to this. If only he had conceded gracefully, some families would not have lost loved ones.
The MDC-Alliance weakened their own supporters’ faith in elections by discrediting a process they were going to participate in. Their leader banked on his perceived urban popularity and believed he could instigate some kind of popular unrest or popular uprising but it wasn’t to be.
We held a very clean election and yet Chamisa held back the rite of capitulation for expediency. He cannot be rewarded for it. Chamisa is eroding the legitimacy of our system therefore should not gain any power in it by blackmailing everyone into appointing him into an inclusive Government.
To reconcile his supporters and those of all the other parties, Chamisa does not need to be in Government. What he needs to do is to concede and push the well-known concept that in democracy someone wins and someone loses. Acknowledging this simple fact has a stabilising effect on both the country and the economy. Why is Chamisa not accepting this simple fact?
President Mnangagwa has been legitimated by elections and he will be right to feel resentful of anyone who makes an effort to imply he did not play by the rules. This is not a new thing. We have been here before. During the inclusive Government Robert Mugabe and Morgan Tsvangirai seemed to enjoy a good working relationship and could talk as and when they had something to say to one another. Robert Mugabe then proceeded to win the 2013 elections and Tsvangirai withheld his loser’s consent and they never spoke to each other again.
Now five years to the date Nelson Chamisa withholds his loser’s consent in an election, which he lost and tries to stir the nation into some form of urban collective unrest with the hope of taking part in the next administration. That is blackmail. The people of Zimbabwe and the winners should resist and fight this. A political leader should not be allowed to impede national progress for purely selfish reasons.
For Zimbabwe to progress we need dissent moderated to acceptable levels. The levels currently generated by Nelson Chamisa and his acolytes have lowered citizens efficacy and that does not augur well for national stability. People that deliberately make our democracy fragile should not be allowed to share power. If we make that mistake, then that will lead to a template that will be used in the future and Zimbabwe will never have uncontroverted elections ever again. Zimbabweans love precedents and this would be a wrong one.
There is no case for power sharing in Zimbabwe. Doing so would suggest that the winners doubt their legitimacy. If everyone had conceded then yes, there could have been a case for such. Some are suggesting that Zimbabwe is a divided nation that power sharing is the only way a national consensus could be built. This writer disagrees. If people had voted along tribal or ethnic lines then that would make sense. This is where the Odinga book of politics could be applied. But people did not vote that way. Urban people just made a choice different from rural people. So building democratic consensus will not come from sharing power but addressing urban socio-economic ills. There is no palpable tension between rural and urban voters, which can be defused by sharing power. We should not compromise popular sovereignty of the winning party just because someone has chosen to be a sore loser.
This is not to say adopting the winner-take-all mentality in our Constitution is the only way. There is nothing wrong in roping in someone from Dr Thokozani Khupe’s political party in the new set-up as a constraining factor otherwise all the needed constraining should be done by those in opposition. They don’t need to be in power with the winners. They should not be rewarded for reneging on an implied democratic commitment to respect the will of the people.
In any case, power is already shared in a dispersive way in that the opposition already controls the two metropolis provinces of Harare and Bulawayo in the devolved governments. Let us see how they will boost the GDPs of these very important cities in the country and improve service delivery. That should be Mr Chamisa’s preoccupation as he learns his statecraft ropes because surely this time he was not ready.
Giving Chamisa a position in central Government does not undergird our democracy. He has threatened the security of the country in an effort to milk political concessions for the sake of power. Giving him power would be rewarding intransigency and is a typical reason many governments do not negotiate with terrorists. It acts as a propensity creating incentive for future election disputes. Chamisa does not need a position in central Government to be an effective opposition leader who constrains Government.