By-elections expose depth of Chamisa’s predicament 

by | Jan 15, 2022 | Politics | 0 comments

 

 

Hosia Mviringi

 

The day is Monday, January 10, 2022. It is such a crucial day in the political history of Zimbabwe, probably not one to celebrate for others, but obviously a cause for relief for others.

 

On this day, the MDC Alliance,  or rather the nameless formation of the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa converged in Harare, could have been under a tree or some other borrowed office somewhere in the capital.

 

The main agenda item is choosing a new name , or to be more specific forming a new party.

 

Perhaps, more fascinating is not the act of forming a new party or finding a new name because these things are happening everyday.

 

In fact Zimbabwe had 23 political parties in the 2018 harmonised elections, on its own no mean feat.

 

Rather what’s curious about the so-called  crunch meeting by Nelson Chamisa and his grouping is the timing of the meeting.

 

It will be recalled that, political analysts and advisors have offered varied advice to Nelson Chamisa before concerning the above subject, with limited success of course.

 

Some advised him to form a new party a long time ago before he even approached the Supreme Court to appeal a High Court ruling which effectively sealed his fate in as far as using the MDC brand or acronym in any colour or by any Surname.

 

Yet some advised him to consider dialogue with his nemesis, one Douglas Togaraseyi Mwonzora, which could have saved his face by forging a viable alliance with one if his own, an alliance that could present viable chances of causing an upset to the ruling party.

 

On January 6, 2022, President Emmerson Mnangagwa exercised his constitutional powers through Proclamation number 2 of 2022 through which he set aside January 26, 2022 for nominations of candidates to the March 26, 2022 by-elections.

 

Well, talks about the President’s legitimacy immediately vanished as everyone, including those who had hitherto protested his Presidency, began to panic as preparations for the elections began in earnest.

 

Talking of panic decisions, one Nelson Chamisa takes the gong.

 

Or maybe the dilemma is just too daunting and overwhelming for him, or anybody else for that matter to be able to keep their sanity for much longer under similar circumstances.

 

The Supreme Court ruling of March 16, 2020 which gave the leadership of the MDC to Ms Thokozani Khupe, effectively left him and his formation without a party or offices as he was quickly expelled from the former citadel at Harvest House.

 

It is that Supreme Court ruling which left him without grassroots structures to carry forward the mobilisation functions. It left his support base disillusioned and confused.

 

Yet the unexplained delay in settling for a name or forming a party didn’t do him and his opaque formation any favours as disaffected followers either jumped ship or simply lost interest.

 

As the Chamisa formation sat on that day to deliberate on the way forward, fissures in the top hierarchy of the leadership were already glaringly and embarrassingly manifesting in the public domain.

 

The purported leader of the nameless formation, Nelson Chamisa, in a show of frustration with the disunity among his close lieutenants,  had to take to microblogging site Twitter, to express his displeasure with his colleagues who seemingly and unrelentingly continue to undermine him at a time he needs them most.

 

Of course Nelson Chamisa has continued with his monologues veiled with riddles on Twitter, which bear very little to no grassroots connection to be of any impact to his political career.

 

“I generally dislike snakes. Good morning friends,” tweeted Chamisa, who ironically is callee Cobra by colleagues in his circles.

The tweet read like words of a man who is losing grip on his political establishment.

A birdie in his camp says some of his allies are seeking life outside the personality of a seemingly selfish leadership.

Of course the fatigue and frustration can be understandabl

e. Charlton Hwende has publicly clashed with Fadzai Mahere, while Job Sikhala and Tendai Biti have perennially been side-lined as they are viewed with suspicion as the most ambitious duo.

Indecision by Nelson Chamisa, which seemed to add fuel to the flames, was beginning to take a toll on the rank and file of the middle to lower leadership corridors and the generality of members.

Interesting to see was the direction that the formation took that day, not that its something new, not even that action was finally being taken, but that no action was taken at all.

Rather the grouping left that meeting adamant that they would contest the March 26 by-elections as MDC Alliance, much to the surprise of their faithful supporters.

Of course, as this writer puts pen to paper, the man continues with his Twitter monologues.

This time assuring his supporters, or at least those who still care to listen, that they already have a name for the new Party.

 

“GET READY FOR VICTORY…

We have heard you. We listened and it shall be done as per your command and demand. Timing &strategy is everything. THE NEW WAY.THE NEW WAVE. It’s time for CHANGE. Let’s teach them a lesson. You’re the game changers and we’re unstoppable. ChoosetheNew,” he continued with his usual lullabies.

 

The odds seem to be stacked up high against the formation and the stakes too high for a gamble.

The looming by-elections are to a larger extent a result of massive recalls which consist of 17 members of Parliament being from the formation led by Nelson Chamisa.

The 17 were recalled for crossing the floor and pledging allegiance to a party other than that which sponsored them into Parliament.

Thus, the meeting was crucial in that the only logical and expected outcome, which is the formation of a new party, was and is still guaranteed to result in more recalls for its remaining members in Parliament.

This, as would be predictable, was going to result in more chaos and confusion in the rank and file of supporters and leaders alike.

 

More by-elections before 2023 general elections?

Supreme Court ruling number SC56/2020 sealed the fate on Nelson Chamisa ever using the MDC brand or acronym in any fashion,  colour or creed.

That gives him only one option which is to form a new party and who’s pitfalls have been discussed above.

Zimbabwean laws prohibit floor crossing, meaning that all the remaining members of the grouping would be exposed to two choices, either to snub the newly formed party and stay with Mwonzora, or to move over to the newly launched or rechristened political entity and be recalled immediately.

This will automatically declare their seats vacant, triggering an even bigger plebcite which could dent their chances in the forthcoming harmonised elections in 2023 as the power of incumbency vanishes.

The above scenarios have all the sounds of a death knell to the political careers of many prominent opposition personalities in the formation led by Nelson Chamisa, him included.

But what is in a brand name anyway?

Some say a name is just a symbol, nothing more. It can be changed and life goes on.

This can be true for ordinary persons, but not with juristic entities and organisations.

A political party name or a brand is what people see and get to associate with. This name supersedes personalities and individuals.

That is how political parties and business organisations manage to outlive their founders and continue to flourish long after their departure.

 

A brand is the most important asset that an organisation can have. It represents who they are and thus forms the basis of existence.

That is why most organisations, both in business and politics move to trademark their brands. It is a brand name that differentiates an entity from competitors in the same field of endeavour.

But in the case of Nelson Chamisa, what the people see and hear is, “Ngaapinde hake mukomana”.

Like seriously, from a serious politician who knows that his game is a game of numbers? How does he expect his aspiring members of Parliament and Councillors to campaign without a brand or party name? Naivety or selfishness?

 

A name, logo, colours, symbols and slogans, all these combine to form brand identity or brand equity.

It is therefore an irony that a serious politician can be truly convinced that they can build sufficient brand equity and loyalty to win a major election within two months calling.

 

In Africa, and elsewhere the world over, it is difficult to succeed in politics without the backing of a well known political brand, unless one can convincingly be the brand themselves.

But of course one thing that stands out is the fact that brands are built over time.

One can not purport to build a brand in two months and expect to meaningfully win elections with it. That will be asking for too much from the gods of miracles.

Typical of an insecure leader, Nelson Chamisa has spent good time promoting his own image and in the process creating a personality cult around himself, at the same time starving other leaders within his formation of political capital with which to promote their names.

This strategy only worked very well until others began to read through his selfish machinations, resulting in dangerous uneasiness in the formation.

Indeed Chamisa resembles a short-sighted leader who spent invaluable time fixated on how to ward off a potential challenges from Tendai Biti or Job Sikhala, while at the same time forgetting that there are multiple battles to be won out there against more formidable opponents.

Yet the most dangerous scenario for Mr Nelson Chamisa as the leader of the formation is that he might soon find himself alone as most of his erstwhile colleagues jump ship to secure their careers in preparation for 2023.

 

As it stands, in any case, two months will be too short to launch a new party and go on to win elections on its ticket. The task to win elections using a two-month-old party seems insurmountable and humongous for most of his close lieutenants who view it as nothing but a futile attempt. These will be tempted to jump ship and secure their political careers.

This process of launching a party and or choosing a name, whether done today or delayed by another week, becomes just but an academic exercise as it can not by any chance salvage its waning fortunes, but rather it only serves to fast track its demise.