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Citizens take charge

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as Chamisa regains lost mojo

A TRENDING video of an elderly woman clad in yellow walking with the aid of a stick on her way to Nelson Chamisa’s rally aptly captured the mood of last week’s gathering.

MOSES MATENGA

The woman, only identified as Gogo Chihera (pictured) and said to be in her 80s, staggered to join thousands of Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters who had defied all odds to throng the Zimbabwe Grounds to meet their party leader, two years after he was put under siege by his political adversaries.

From stringent police conditions, several security check-points, intimidation and potential violence, thousands of Chamisa’s supporters showed grit and sheer determination to attend the rally.

But what was clearly evident was the lack of adequate regalia that forced many to improvise in creative and hilarious ways to fit in the colour yellow and meet the 44-year-old leader whose political life seemed doomed in the past two years until last week’s massive “Yellow Sunday” rally. 

“I gave glory to God and felt so humbled by the citizens’ emotional, emphatic and eloquent endorsement,” Chamisa told The NewsHawks on how he felt that Sunday afternoon.

“When I saw that determined crowd, I simply said this is it and the day that the Lord has made, the day that the citizens have welcomed our ‘citizen first’ and ‘citizens at the centre’ philosophy. Citizen-centred politics is the new trajectory,” Chamisa added.

Without the much-needed resources, Chamisa was bound to struggle in painting the city yellow, but his legion of supporters had something up their sleeves.

One of the supporters simply took a tattered yellow shoe, tied a string on it to hang loose around his neck and even bragged about it, saying: “I wish God would just bring Mwonzora’s heart here so that we check how it is responding after seeing this kind of gathering.”

Another supporter dipped his white T-shirt in yellow paint and wore it to the rally while another simply “wore” an empty carton of cooking oil, yellow in colour.

Another supporter, clad in a grey suit and a matching blue shirt, tucked around six bananas on a headband just to have something yellow to fit in.

Chamisa said it was humbling that his supporters were showing commitment to supporting their political project.

Other supporters wore unbranded yellow garments and posed as members of the apostolic sects at a shrine, role-playing as if they were exorcising the demons of poverty and dictatorship in the country.

“We have a resilient citizen at the centre of all this. Do you believe that at the Zimbabwe Grounds, everything was catered for by the citizens? We did not buy anything, even the T-shirts. Some were even innovative enough to put on cardboard boxes, if you saw the one in a ZimGold box, some just waved yellow shoes and bananas and it shows the revolution is unstoppable,” Chamisa said.

“You cannot fight people and win. People walked, we did not provide buses for them. Everything you saw was a product of the citizens both in the diaspora and locally but more in the diaspora,” he said.

Hundreds walked from as far afield as Epworth, defying security check-points and threats from police who had blocked the busing of supporters for the rally.

Chamisa’s campaign has received a lot of goodwill, including a campaign to buy him an armoured US$120 000 vehicle pushed by the diaspora last year after a suspected assassination attempt during his countrywide tour of party structures.

A public address system sourced by the diaspora community was also donated for the rally.

The last two years saw Chamisa losing everything from Morgan Tsvangirai House, the party name, millions of dollars under the Political Parties (Finance) Act and even 18 of his party members of Parliament who were recalled by Douglas Mwonzora together with over 80 councillors.

Chamisa received massive endorsements from respected academics who certified him as the official opposition based on the numbers that thronged Zimbabwe Grounds on Sunday.

Former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo took to microblogging site Twitter on the day of the rally, saying: “Clearly, Chamisa has an unmatched natural connection with ordinary people, it gives him a convening capacity which defies police roadblocks and dirty CIO plots, it is something that the likes of poor Mnangagwa, who rent and bus their crowds, can only dream of.”

Renowned academic Ibbo Mandaza said the large crowds at the Chamisa rally on Sunday was a story of defiance by opposition supporters against the Mnangagwa regime.

“So, as expected, tens of thousands have already converged at Zimbabwe Grounds for Chamisa’s star by-election rally, defying shameful conduct by the state to frustrate the event. It’s beyond optics. Mnangagwa’s regime hangs on a thread and the deep state is taking note,” Mandaza said.

Professor of world politics Stephen Chan said: “Ok, it seems the young man has done it. Forget anyone else. He is the opposition now.”

Political analysts described Chamisa’s Zimbabwe Grounds rally as affirmation that the real 2023 fight was between Mnangagwa and Chamisa who have won the numbers game, with Mwonzora not featuring in the picture.

“The rally by Mnangagwa, the other by Chamisa and Mwonzora were an attempt to settle who really is into politics in the real sense,” political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said.

“It was an attempt to appeal to the public court and say ‘can the people of Zimbabwe, even before voting, make their voice heard on who really matters in politics?’ and I think that question was settled in Epworth when Mnangagwa brought his supporters, in Highfield by Mwonzora with no one endorsing him and, thirdly, by Chamisa when he re-established himself as a political force in Zimbabwe.”

“Essentially, the two political leaders that matter are Chamisa and Mnangagwa and the two political parties that matter are Zanu PF and CCC,” Mukundu said.

In solidarity, the Zimbabwe National Students’ Union said they were heartbroken by the lives their parents were being subjected to, hence the urgent need for action.

“As students, we want to tell our parents that you must not vote for rice; vote for democracy,” Zinasu president Benon Ncube said.

“Do not tire in fighting for democracy till the bitter end, we will always build a new heroes’ acre for you. We need a working public transport system, payment of enough salaries to our parents and a working Zimbabwe,” he added.

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition chairperson Peter Mutasa said the organisation believed in the CCC philosophy in fighting for the oppressed and called for a government that respects people’s rights.

“l am here because you invited us. We do not go where they plan to destroy, murder and capture institutions of the state, including the police, judges and soldiers. They do not invite us because they know we will call them to order,” Mutasa said.

“People are crying and wallowing in poverty, no food, no salaries, soldiers are hungry, people are dying there are no doctors. I want democracy, equality and equity. We are here because we are conscious,” Mutasa added.

In his address, Chamisa said while his nemesis thought they were done with him, he has managed to rise again.

“They thought they were done with us, I told them they don’t know who we are. I told them they do not know us. l got the direction from (the late former MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai) Save of where we ought to go. You can capture the leaders, but you can never capture the people,” Chamisa said.  

“This (Zimbabwe Grounds) is where it began with (the late former President Robert) Mugabe and (the late former Vice-President (Joshua) Nkomo. I am here to say Mugabe, Nkomo, (the late former Zapu leader Dumiso) Dabengwa, we are here to finish what you started,” Chamisa said.

Chamisa got endorsement from firebrand former Zanu PF youth activist Godfrey Tsenengamu who described Mnangagwa as “fake.”

“I was there (in Zanu PF) and there is nothing,” Tsenengamu told thousands of CCC supporters.

“l know Baba 2 (father of twins, as Mnangagwa is also known) one on one. When you are faraway from him, you would think he has something to offer, but there is nothing. We were told Mugabe was a problem, but now we realised we are not going anywhere. We thought Mugabe was a thief, but they are now stealing as if the country is closing tomorrow,” Tsenengamu said.

“l am here because you (Chamisa) you are a force to reckon with. We will walk together to build Zimbabwe.”

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