By Sibanengi Dube
Long-suffering Zimbabwe’s newest opposition political party, the Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) of Advocate Nelson Chamisa was launched amid pomp and fanfare on Monday, but with little indication of how it proposes to address the many challenges that it failed to help to solve in its previous existence as the MDC A.
To watchful observers, some of them cynical, nothing appeared set to change, except for the controversial name, the logo of the party, the slogans and, of course, the changeover to the golden yellow colour. By nightfall on 24 January, sections of Zimbabwe’s social media were awash with in yellow.
In essence the new political organisation, dubbed Chamisa Chete Chete (only Chamisa is entitled) by both supporters and detractors, comprised the same characters, spotting different haircuts, while clearly singing from the same old hymn-book of entitlement to power. They stood dutifully in the same pecking order, as the newly empowered leader viciously castigated anyone and everyone viewed as posing a threat to their renewed aspirations.
By Tuesday it had become apparent that what had become a social media launch might have to relocate from Twitter accounts and Facebook to make any significant difference.
To those familiar with the leadership style of the youthful politician, the launch was essentially a one-man show, featuring Nelson Chamisa as the sole player. This served to confirm a prevalent perception that the new CCC outfit is, indeed, a little disguised Chamisa Chete Chete, crusade around the quest Chamisa for undiluted political power. If the MDCA was a creature of collective leadership, the CCC is his own baby, the new baby, as he called it.
Not unpredictably, only Chamisa spoke during the brief launch function, while all other members of the party’s Standing Committee were paraded besides him for the purpose of cheering as their supreme leader presented himself as the forthcoming President of Zimbabwe.
”Mr Mnangagwa, one week you will see this country different,” Chamisa gushed to muted applause, “You will be the first beneficiary.”
The majority of MDC A leadership are not even sure whether they are welcome on board as the new CCC ship sets sail, or they have been banished to a political wilderness.
“Without you the journey begins,” Chamisa declared at the end of his address.
As usual, Chamisa was humorous, oozing with energy, and dropped optimistic soundbites, but was devoid of sound action plans. He promised no measurable deliverables within clear timeframes ahead of his reconfigured organisation.
His speech was pregnant with expressions of personal desires to assume power but lacked details of manner of execution.
“We are Number One in the country,” he said while raising his forefinger to further muted applause, led by Fadzayi Mahere, the party spokesperson.
Throughout his career, Chamisa has mostly benefitted from political appointments. With the millions of supporters that his party claims to have, outlining what the CCC has prepared for the salvation of a beleaguered country should have been an easy task, as well as explaining how he proposes to recover or defend that which, according to him, has been stolen from the MDCA, especially in the previous elections.
The biblical turning of the other cheek does not usually work in politics. Politics is about assuming power, retaining it and overwhelming adversaries. How does the CCC intend to take power over when they seem to surrender even the shirt they are wearing to those who want to steal their jacket. It is absurd that Chamisa expects his political rivals, Mnangagwa of Zanu-PF and MDC-T president Douglas Mwonzora, to be charitable to him.
In his speech, he kept on complaining about how the two were disrupting his plans as if they owe him any cooperation. In a game of soccer, the main objective of a defender is to prevent the rival team’s striker from even touching the ball. Yet Chamisa expects defenders ED and Mwonzora to stand by and watch as he takes penalties from the spot.
Just imagine for a second what would happen In South Africa if the ANC ever tried to evict Julius Malema’s EFF from their head-office in Gandhi Square.
Those who watched them remember how EFF female MPs physically defended their rights when security officers tried to eject them from parliament. Fists literally flew. The same cannot be said about the MDCA and now CCC parliamentarians who rushed out of parliament the moment Thokozani Khupe dropped a letter on Speaker Jacob Mudenda’s desk.
Chamisa heaped praises and accolades upon himself instead of unpacking how the new CCC will counter the spanners which Zanu PF and the MDC-T will continue to throw in their works as should be expected in the ongoing political contestation. His launch speech was heavy on celebration and threat, but thin on strategy. The former student leader delivered a celebratory speech instead of a working document. One would be pardoned for thinking that the CCC crew walked to State House straight from the Bronte Hotel press conference. .
Zanu PF’s political missiles have been aimed at the person of Nelson Chamisa and not at the name MDC A. Chamisa’s new political outfit, whether known as the Citizens’ Coalition for Change or Chamisa Chete Chete remains merely a name. It is not immune to political assault.
Adopting the yellow colour or assuming new slogans is no guarantee of protection from defeat. Coming up with strategies and counter strategies as well as correctly identifying the weaknesses of rival parties are the factors that matter more than colours and sloganeering. Right from the outset the CCC outfit displayed a tendency to bark rather too loudly while showing little threat of biting.
The MDC has been a popular party since its formation. They had a solid foundation. By the time the MDCA became the CCC this week they had little to hang on to. In recent times they have lost their unity, their very domain, Harvest House, as well as the very fighting spirit that sustained them as a household name and Zimbabwe’s celebrated opposition party under the illustrious leadership of Morgan Richard Tsvangirai, now late.
Now they have lost their very identity as Chamisa pursues what many observers view a personality cult.
Elected leaders of the MDC A who received their mandate from the Gweru Congress are now serving at the mercy of Chamisa who is clearly eager to reshuffle the composition of both the National Council and the Standing Committee.
Chamisa has even made appointments outside his constitutional mandate. For instance, he appointed Fadzayi Mahere to the Standing Committee. She became spokesperson of the party even though she fell short of the constitutional requirement of being a member of the party for a period of five years.
Chamisa’s controversy-ridden migration from MDC A to CCC is not likely to provide an opportunity for the enhancement of his political fortunes in the short term. It is more likely, instead to open his flank to attacks that could prove fatal at this critical stage of his political career.
—Sibanengi Dube is the publisher of South Africa Observer