“THIS is to officially, and under my hand, inform you fellow citizens of Zimbabwe and the world, that, with immediate effect, I no longer have anything to do with CCC.”
With these words, Zimbabwe’s main opposition CCC leader Nelson Chamisa left his party and supporters in the lurch. By throwing his hands in the air and walking away, he accepted defeat by people he has described as political impostors and frauds.
More importantly, he left hard-won democratic political space which the opposition occupied after more than 20 years of bitter struggle, characterised by sweat and blood — sometimes literally, sacrifice and hard work — open for Zanu PF to move onto without much fighting and resistance.
His move effectively took the struggle 24 years backwards in many ways.
This means most MPs, senators and councillors, as well as mayors who fought hard to occupy the positions and democratic space they hold, may now have to surrender them to follow Chamisa, out of principle for some and loyalty for others.
Those who remain will be considered sellouts.
The electorate is the proverbial grass that suffers when two elephants fight.
Chamisa, who has given President Emmerson Mnangagwa a good run for his money in two tightly-contested and disputed presidential elections, abandoned the CCC saying it has now been criminally infiltrated and hijacked by the ruling Zanu PF and its agents.
In African wisdom, it was case of abandoning one’s house because a snake has moved in.
Similarly, for Sengezo Tshabangu and his allies who engineered the recalls and seized the party, forcing Chamisa to move out that way was a case of burning down the house because a snake has entered. They forced Chamisa out but burnt down the CCC.
With Chamisa’s announcement, the CCC instantly imploded. By the time the next elections come, it would be gone.
Without Chamisa, the party will not survive.
Just like the MDC-T and MDC-Alliance collapsed and died when he pulled out due to similar internal strife to eventually form the CCC, the party will not survive without him.
Even the MDC parties were destroyed by Zanu PF and state infiltration, a problem Chamisa tried to resolve in futility by making the CCC amorphous through “strategic ambiguity”.
Chamisa’s critics say the CCC was inevitably not going to survive if it was amorphous, leaderless and rudderless without a constitution, organisational structures, office-bearers, offices, treasury and bank account, internal democracy and accountability.
They also say this underlines the problem of personality-based parties and personality cult politics in Zimbabwe.
Opposition parties are mainly based on personalities and not institutionalised, which is a serious problem. Without the late Morgan Tsvangirai, the MDC eventually died. Many other smaller parties have suffered a similar fate.
Although the late president Robert Mugabe built a cult of personality, the difference between the opposition and Zanu PF is that the latter is institutionalised and has survived similar problems in the past.
A cult of personality arises when a leader is represented as larger-than-life through deeds, imagery and words of uncritical praise and flattery.
However, Chamisa says the problem is not his nebulous concept of “strategic ambiguity”, but that the party has been “infiltrated, contaminated, bastardised and hijacked” by Zanu PF and its agents through political chicanery.
He says the real problem is Zanu PF authoritarian political repression and disastrous economic mismanagement, which has impoverished the nation.
Authoritarian regimes co-opt opposition parties or infiltrate to destroy them.
Modern authoritarianism regimes like Zanu PF succeed, where previous totalitarian systems failed, largely due to new strategies of repression.
Chamisa’s political bombshell came after an internal implosion of the CCC following self-imposed secretary-general Tshabangu’s dramatic and arbitrary recalls of its MPs, senators and councillors through brazen political subterfuge, supported by the executive, Parliament and the judiciary, as well as Zanu PF, spearheaded by state security agents.
Tshabangu took advantage of the CCC’s amorphous structure, lack of constitution and office-bearers to claim interim leadership through a self-appointed committee of his Bulawayo-based allies to destroy the CCC.
Clearly, the Tshabangu-led democracy destruction committee has succeeded in hijacking the party and blowing it into smithereens.
This broad daylight democratic subversion leaves voters and the people in the lurch, just like Chamisa’s jumping ship reaction.
Without a bona fide opposition, it also leaves Zimbabwe now under the rule of a de facto one-party state.
Ultimately, democracy has suddenly been thrown into the intensive care unit, with the people who voted for original CCC MPs in last year’s August general elections being the main losers.
Now without Chamisa, CCC MPs loyal to him are left in the lurch as well and vulnerable to further recalls and decimation. They are forced to remain and be doomed or follow him in abandoning the electorate, which moves are both bad politics.
Chamisa said: “As you may be aware, the CCC idea was an idea we prayerfully conceived. The original idea meant to place Our God and the Citizens at the centre of all decision making. This test was not passed and the purpose was not served.
“The original CCC idea has however been contaminated, bastardised, hijacked by Zanu PF through the abuse of state institutions. CCC has not been aligned to its founding purpose and mandate. Further, CCC has now been rendered an extension of and been taken over by Zanu PF.
“CCC has, to all intents and purposes, been criminally handed over to Zanu PF. Our politics has been defiled by schemes of personal aggrandisement upon a runaway pursuit of politics of positions, title, benefits, trinkets and trappings of office. A contaminated, bastardised, hijacked CCC cannot deliver a New Great Zimbabwe!
“But then God’s grace is sufficient! Indeed God is in it. However, it is not like Zanu PF is unconquerable, this Zanu PF you see today, you will see it no more. Our God has opened a new way. Unfortunately, the road is narrow and I have to meet the demands of my assignment. The citizens of Zimbabwe will be set free from the hands of oppression.
“On account of the absence of any plan by the incumbent to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis, the solution to the problems affecting our beautiful and beloved country. Zimbabwe must return to legitimacy and majority happiness.
“We as the citizens are duty bound to find lasting answers to our perennial national questions. With what has happened to CCC, we need honest and accountable citizens in leadership. Stand ready to serve!
“I have been approached by war veterans, women’s groups, youth groups, church leaders, traditional leaders, trade unions, civil society and even various leaders on the continent on the ways to find a lasting solution to our problems as a nation.
“Various schemes and carrots have been dangled to entice the undermining of the cause for freedom. Some of us have refused silver coins in pursuit of the higher ideal — happiness and dignity for everyone. It is now clear to everyone that big money is finding into the pockets of some, who, on account of poverty and material desperation have succumbed to the temptation of enticement.
“The infiltration of CCC and our efforts to wrestle it out of capture, is to our utmost surprise but not unexpected, been denied through the judicial system defying all logic and legal reasoning.
“We are being thrown into a river with hungry crocodiles, but clearly in our view I will refuse to swim in a river with hungry crocodiles. We need to extricate ourselves from the shenanigans. I will have nothing to do with sewer pond politics.
“We call upon all citizens to rally behind fresh politics, new politics and genuine fresh and credible leaders who want to serve and not to be served. Zanu PF can take everything that we sweated for, take the party and its name, take the money and whoever is a beneficiary of this fraud, is a certified fraudster.
“This is to officially, and under my hand, inform you fellow citizens of Zimbabwe and the world, that, with immediate effect, I no longer have anything to do with CCC.
“As a patriot, I remain active in public service. I also remain a loyal citizen listener, freedom advocate, a citizens’ champion and leader.
“My focus remains fully on Zimbabwe, asserting your victory, honouring the citizens’ mandate and God’s calling to provide leadership.
“There are fresh things we need to do. Let’s all work together for total freedom, true change and wholistic transformation for our beloved country. Giving up or giving in is not an option. Nothing comes without tenacity and resilience. Fellow citizens, you will be kept posted on the next step.”
Chamisa did not clarify what the next step is.
While it is not clear where he is going, what is certain is that Zanu PF will seize most democratic space he has abandoned, leaving the electorate and political activists who sacrificed for it in the lurch — some staying behind bewildered and feeling betrayed; others blindly following him.