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Nelson Chamisa called Zimbabwe's last election a farce Credit: Getty Images


Chamisa remains formidable brand



RESIGNED Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa must not re-trace his footsteps back to the opposition outfit due to its high levels of infiltration but should rather pick up the pieces and form another party fixated on organisational dexterity if he is to emerge as a serious political gladiator, analysts have said.


Chamisa last week brewed a shocker when he announced that he was quitting the CCC and “will have nothing to do with sewer politics,” in a 13-page statement.

He won about 44% of the votes in last year’s presidential election which was plagued by allegations of massive rigging and voter suppression.

Several MPs from his CCC party later lost their seats in what Chamisa said was sabotage by his nemesis and self-imposed secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu who presided over unrelenting recalls of the legislators with support of state institutions such as the judiciary. 

While the 45-year-old Christian pastor and lawyer insisted he remains grounded in opposition politics, declaring “giving up or giving in is not an option,” he is yet to articulate the political direction he now intends to take.

Tswane University of Technology-based political scientist Dr Ricky Mukonza, who is based in Pretoria, South Africa, said Chamisa’s next step must hover around formation of a political party that embraces democratic tenets that do not revolve around him as an individual.

He said Chamisa must certianly avoid a repeat of the “big man politics” that has seen the downfall of several African politicians.

“I think Chamisa is going to begin a movement mobilised around him. What he could not withstand is the challenge posed by some senior leaders like Biti and others. Of course infiltraton by Zanu PF could have been the other key factor.

“Now he has an opportunity to start something where he will be a political ‘godfather’ without question. He carries with him the advantage of being popular and appealing to a good number of Zimbabweans,” he said.

Mukonza reiterated that Chamisa at all cost must avoid centralising the architecture of his future politics solely on himself.

“Whatever he is going to start, he must ensure that it’s founded on democratic tenets and not solely on him as an individual. This will separate him from the general crop of African leaders, past and present, whose politics revolved around them as individuals. The curse of big man politics,” said Mukonza.

University of Zimbabwe political scientist Professor Eldred Masunungure said Chamisa’s political survival rests on forming a political party that completely abandons his “strategic ambiguity” approach that was followed by the CCC, leading to his exit from the outfit.

“Presently, there is a lot of confusion and uncertainty as to Chamisa’s next move, which appears to be a continuation of his ‘strategic ambiguity’, that is, keeping everyone guessing.
“Assuming though that after his exit from the CCC he still wants to be a political gladiator, he has little option but to form another political vehicle to champion his political ambitions,” asserted Masunungure.

He added that under such a development, Chamisa would need to avoid the mistakes of non-organisational politics he carried from the MDC-T going into the MDC-Alliance and until recently, the CCC.

“He [Chamisa] will then have to learn from the past, especially the immediate past in non-organisational politics, that serious politics without a serious organisation leads to a cul-de-sac as he bitterly experienced. The simple message is: there is no substitute for organisational politics,” said Masunungure.
Professor of world politics Stephen Chan, who is based at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said the only way for Chamisa is to form a structured political party.

“Chamisa is very unlikely to return to the CCC. He is a very stubborn man (with) — both a great strength and a great weakness. A weakness in that he never gives himself room in which to be flexible.

“His only way forward would be to start a new political party. But that means starting from scratch, without any pre-existing organisation, facilities and funds — as there were in the MDC when he became its leader,” he said.

He said with limited time to the next general elections slated for 2028, chances of sustained successes will be also limited in the event that the CCC he abandoned regroups and emerges stronger without him.

“But five years is a long time. Much will depend on how well the CCC he left behind will do. If it fails to oppose well, that would be his point of entry with a new party. But if the CCC does oppose well, there will be no need at all for any new party,” said Chan.

Rashweat Mukundu, a Zimbabwean-based political analyst, opined that Chamisa must emerge stronger from the problems he has faced thus far in his political career and and craft with others a formidable opposition political party. He urged Chamisa to stay away from the toxic CCC.

“The CCC in its current formation is a madhouse. It’s a political space that is too confused for anyone to make sense of what can be done. 

“For this reason, it makes sense for Nelson Chamisa to say he is stepping out and maybe starting something new or inform on his next move.

“The reason being that once Nelson announced his resignation from CCC, we then saw the levels of conspiracy within the Tshabangu scandal from very senior political leaders who now claim to be occupying various positions in the CCC, but who were not forthcoming in resolving these issues when Tshabangu started its problems.

“And it appears that for Nelson Chamisa, it appears CCC is irredeemable and those that want to remain in it must take ownership and run with it,” he said.

Mukundu added that eventually Chamisa must form a new political party.

“And maybe Nelson needs to start something and the people of Zimbabwe obviously are the ultimate judges in what they believe,” he said.

Political analyst Vivid Gwede said Chamisa must ride on his popularity to put together a forceful party to contest for state power, but he needs to first introspect.   

“Chamisa remains popular across the country and will likely play a leading role in opposition politics. That probably means he will do so through another movement or party. In the meantime, he will probably have time to reflect on what has gone wrong and how the lessons can strengthen his next steps,” he said.

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