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Chamisa must reflect, move on



IN the aftermath of local political activist Sengezo Tshabangu’s recalls tsunami and by-elections that have shaken the main opposition CCC to the core and disrupted it badly, party leader Nelson Chamisa – the most popular and bona fide opposition player in the country currently – must sit down, reflect and move on.

He must quickly deal with the Tshabangu political madness, regroup with his allies and restrategise. He needs everyone at the moment. He must put aside his differences with colleagues, and rise to leadership. Even if it means leading a team of rivals like Abraham Lincoln.

They need to rebuild the opposition; start from the foundation to fix the fundamentals and go upwards.

Even though Tshabangu might have had a legitimate grievance and good intention at the beginning, his strategy has been a disaster. He has now simply reduced himself to a Zanu PF political instrument, acting to destroy the opposition at the behest of state security agents, Zanu PF and self-interested individuals.

In the process, he has only succeeded in giving Zanu PF a two-thirds majority to amend the constitution as they wish. He has also brought Zanu PF back to Bulawayo in major way for the first time since 2000. That is not something he should be proud of given the blood and sweat opposition activists have had to endure to secure the ground which has now been lost.

However, the irony is he will be irrelevant eventually.

A lot has happened since the CCC was formed last year in January last year. Some of the issues were inherited from the associated previous parties in the form of the MDC and its various manifestations.

Whether the CCC’s roots lie in the MDC or not, is not important. What is important is to learn from the MDC experiences.

Chamisa has done a lot of great things, like his remarkable showings in 2018 and 2023 against a formidable Zanu PF machinery, backed by the state and millions of dollars, which gave the country hope for change. That is why he remains the main authentic voice of the opposition and plausible alternative. Everything else is wishful thinking – at least for now.

Yet he has made a lot of mistakes. The main reason is that he is trying. Only those who do nothing don’t make mistakes. But at the same time those experiences and mistakes have shown light on his progressive qualities and limitations. He has great potential if he learns from his past and others.

Mistakes in our careers from different walks of life are a part of being human. We need to appreciate our mistakes for what they truly are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way Chamisa must be big enough as a leader to admit his mistakes, smart enough to capitalise on them, and strong enough to correct them, as someone once said. 

Of course, it is tiring to dwell on one’s mistakes; it can be discouraging. So it’s time for Chamisa to shift his perspective and embrace the power of learning from his past. That will save him a lot pain going forward.

Insightful words from renowned thinkers and successful individuals always remind us that mistakes are not failures, but rather stepping stones towards success.

As Henry Ford said, the real mistake is not making a mistake, but failure to learn from the mistake.

Tshabangu arrived like a bat out of hell to wreak havoc in the CCC through wilful falsehoods and deceit. He has inflicted a heavy blow on the CCC and democracy, but he cannot defeat an idea whose time has come: Change.

But then again the CCC drama was entirely avoidable. CCC and its leaders should learn from this experience. Chamisa and his allies should not have sought to reinvent the wheel through nebulous and dubious concepts like strategic ambuity or organised chaos.

They should have just formed a proper political party with a relevant name and catchy slogan, sound ideological foundation, workable policy framework, constitution, organisational structures, office-bearers, offices, bank accounts, standard operating procedures, systems, strategies and tactics.

This would have largely helped to institutionalise the party and avoid the current chaotic mess.

This is not to say there would be no infiltration from the system. Covert forms of authoritarian control remain a strategy of dictators’ authoritarian survival, but organisational vulnerability is acute where there is no order. Infiltrators thrive in chaos.

Infiltration will be always be there, but it can be managed if the organisation is strongly institutionalised and properly led. That is what the CCC needs at the moment – leadership in times of adversity.

Leadership is critical. Strong leadership, not intransigent leadership, is what is badly needed. Good leaders always have vision, they inspire their party and followers; have strategic and critical thinking; consult and listen.

Listening does not mean docility and lack of ideas. It means one takes good ideas and strategies, and rejects bad ones depending on the situation and circumstances. As a leader, accept that you are sometimes expected to make necessary and unpopular decisions; that your relations with your colleagues can become more challenging.

Accept that you may become unpopular and have to deal with many more questions than you feel comfortable with. Accept the tensions, and walk the tightrope after making unpopular, but necessary decisions.

When it comes to leadership, stubbornness – being rigidly self-centred – can be one’s downfall.

This means leadership style is important and must be dynamic, and constantly adaptive. Leadership must be rule-based, not arbitrary. The constitution, rule of law, internal democracy and procedures must be upheld. Deployments must be based on meritocracy and competence – not patronage, identity and impositions, as well as other nuanced considerations to be found in complex systems like a political party and arrangements. Policies, programmes, strategies and tactics must be constantly reviewed. Leaders and supporters must sacrifice for change. The party must get local politics right everywhere. It must have an elders’ council, think-tanks, experts and adequate funding behind it.

Given its youth team, CCC needs experienced political operators in critical positions and people with substance to inspire confidence.

That is how the CCC must be organised, controlled and run. It must work democratically and efficiently, not like an underworld secret society.

The main thing is to work to build an alternative to fix the broken country; the politics, leadership and policy failures, governance and accountability issues, economy, service delivery, patronage,  corruption, joblessness, poverty and many other issues which have made Zimbabwe a volatile cauldron of repressed public anger and volcanic instability.

President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu PF have demonstrated over 43 years, that they are unable or unwilling – or both – to run Zimbabwe competently and progressively. To say they failed is just being polite. It’s worse than that.

If CCC, a good political project to push for democratic change if beefed up properly, had done the basics, Tshabangu would not have found an opportunity to strike that way. He is not a factor alone, but an instrument with which to strike the CCC.

At things stand, Tshabangu has achieved his mission  – myopic and self-serving as it is: Wreak havoc in the CCC, disrupt its momentum and hand over a two-thirds parliamentary majority to Zanu PF, and then name the price.

That’s temporary gratification for him. He won’t go far, especially hobnobbing with Zanu PF political hyenas always looking for predatory means of scavenging for survival through hustling, looting and brutality.

However, all is not lost.

The CCC, Zimbabwe’s only bona fide opposition alternative, can still regroup, rebuild and rise. Chamisa is still the real article and genuine alternative. The party can certainly emerge stronger, organised and wiser from this experience provided people learn something from it and do the right things — urgently.

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