When the opposition believes its own propaganda

Nobleman Runyanga

Since the MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa’s loss to President Emmerson Mnangagwa during the 30 July 2018 harmonised elections, the opposition outfit has been throwing around a number of accusations against ZANU PF and Government to cover up its own leaders’ shortcomings.

Claims of poll theft and illegitimacy

When Chamisa lost to President Mnangagwa, he claimed that the Presidential poll had been rigged against him. He petitioned the Constitutional Court which heard his matter on 24 August 2018. The court proceedings were covered by the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC)’s television services to facilitate transparency and in the interest of public information. When Chamisa’s defence counsel led by his friend, Thabani Mpofu was asked to produce evidence to support their claims by way of completed Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) V11 forms, they failed. No amount of throwing a lot of Latin legalese by Mpofu could save the day for the embarrassed Chamisa.

He lost the case paving the way for President Mnangagwa’s inauguration two days later. This was despite Chamisa’s earlier tweet in which he claimed that he had all the requisite V11 forms he needed and vowing that he would offer his sister to President Mnangagwa if the latter won so much as five percent of the valid votes cast.

 A senior member of his then coalition, David Coltart used his Twitter handle to appeal to supporters to avail V11 forms.  He said “we particularly need V11 forms from Mashonaland Central and West provinces where it appears the main focus of rigging was.” It turned out that Chamisa and his team had not paid their polling agents. His poor preparations for the polls cost him, but instead of admitting defeat, he began to mount a campaign of illegitimacy against the President. Put differently, he attempted to save his face by lying that he had lost due to poll theft. To this day, nearly three years later, he continues to believe his own lie and propaganda. Fortunately the world has joined Zimbabweans in recognising President Mnangagwa’s administration and moved on.

The meddlesome central Government lie

Since 2000, successive MDC-dominated councils have presided over Zimbabwe’s 30 urban local authorities and their tenure has been characterised by deteriorating service standards. This state of affairs worsened during Chamisa’s tenure after he grabbed the MDC-T party from the rightful heiress, Dr Thokozani Khupe in February 2018 following his predecessor, the late Morgan Tsvangirai’s death. Nowhere is it more pronounced than in Harare, where mounds of uncollected refuse in the city centre and residential areas have become a common sight.

Instead of tackling this, Chamisa and his councillors are claiming that they cannot remove refuse from the streets because of central Government interference, which is another lie that they created, fervently believe in and peddled around. They claim that they cannot repair roads because Government removed the motor vehicle licensing function from urban local authorities to the Zimbabwe National Road Administration (ZINARA) as if they are not collecting revenue from residents.

 They are blaming central Government for their failure forgetting that the electorate votes for councillors and not central Government to represent them in councils. If they were honest politicians, they would acknowledge central Government’s routine assistance with securing water treatment chemicals and road rehabilitation.

The lawfare nonsense

Chamisa’s faction childishly believes in getting arrested and using the arrests to accuse Government of not respecting human rights. Realising how badly this was backfiring, its senior members have been claiming that Government is persecuting its members by prosecution. Chamisa himself is on record claiming that Government upheld rule by law instead of the rule of law.

 They are have devised the term lawfare in their bid to celebrate their made up victimhood. They even include convicted murderers among their members as “prisoners of conscience” – a euphemism for political prisoners.

An examination of the cases of the so-called political prisoners reveals that some are convicted criminals and some like Makomborero Haruzivishe are facing serious criminal charges. He is facing charges of kidnapping after locking  up Impala Motor Spares workers in their shop in Harare in October last year. Others such as activists, Joana Mamombe and Cecilia Chimbiri are just silly young trouble makers, who cannot stay away from the police’s handcuffs. Mamombe is facing charges of breaching lockdown regulations when she, Chimbiri and Netsai Marowa organised a protest in Warren Park in Harare on 13 May 2020 during a lockdown. Before they were tried for the offence on 1 February 2021 they were arrested for undermining the police when they insulted police officers in a motor vehicle in Harare city centre.

They were granted bail on 10 February 2021, but were arrested again on 5 March for addressing a media conference on 25 February 2021 at the Harare Magistrates Court in support of Haruzivishe. They have been breaching their bail granted on the previous charges they were already facing. Like the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) leader, Takudzwa Ngadziore, they have become some kind of a legal nuisance all in the name of making Government look bad. Surely, such people are not victims as their faction wishes the world to believe in their propaganda. These cases demonstrate that the claims of lawfare are just that – mere face-saving claims.

Opposition decimation hallucination

Arising out of Chamisa’s irregular wresting of the control of the MDC-T from Dr Khupe have been a number of recalls which followed the Supreme Court judgement of 31 March 2020. The judgement restored Dr Khupe’s leadership of the MDC-T, which Chamisa had renamed MDC Alliance after the 2018 elections.

Under Dr Khupe, the MDC-T’s then secretary general, Douglas Mwonzora instigated a number of legislator recalls. These continued into 2021, when he became the party’s president following the MDC-T’s December 2020 congress. Instead of admitting his error and taking corrective action, Chamisa has been baselessly claiming that ZANU PF was working with Mwonzora to decimate his (Chamisa’) faction. Chamisa’s woes were self-made and no amount of claiming a ZANU PF hand therein will reverse his unenviable circumstances.

Miffed by MDC Alliance faction co-vice president, Tendai Biti’s departure from the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) to join the MDC Alliance without its approval, the PDP recalled him and five other legislators on 17 March 2020. This readily elicited a response from Biti’s Western handlers. Within days the US Department of State spokesperson, Ned Price accused ZANU PF of misusing State power to “subvert the will of voters, further undermine democracy, and deny millions of Zimbabwean citizens their chosen representation.”

It is sad that the US has also taken the MDC Alliance’s lies, propaganda and false claims that Government is behind the recalls, which have so far seen 39 legislators and 81 councillors being ousted from Parliament and various councils respectively. No well-meaning stakeholder would believe the claim that ZANU PF removed opposition councillors from Parliament and councils when this was initiated by their respective political parties. While some people tried to question the legality of the recalls constitutional experts such as Dr Lovemore Madhuku explained that nothing was amiss for as long as Parliament received a letter from the affected legislator’s political party. 

Biti tried another propaganda claim that he was targeted for exposing corruption as the chair of the Public Accounts Committee, but became tongue-tied when asked how the PDP was connected with the alleged corruption in Government. This even exposed the fact that the committee he chaired was one of those which had failed to produce reports on time. In other words, Biti was concentrating on playing politics in the Committee instead of serving the nation.

One-Party State lie

When Chamisa noted that his political walls were collapsing around him following the recalls, the mass defection of his members to ZANU PF and the general doomed circumstances of his faction, he devised another lie which he is currently spinning. In his 9 March 2021 Agenda 2021, he claimed that Government was targeting to introduce a one-party state in Zimbabwe by destroying his faction and working with other opposition parties. If the President is going to work with other political parties (as he is already doing), would that be a one-party state? Common sense is not common to everyone.

Zimbabwe has more than 20 opposition parties and it is naïve for Chamisa to believe and sell the lie that the imminent self-invited collapse of his faction means the death of democracy in Zimbabwe. Zimbabweans are active politically. The moment his faction dies new or existing players will take its place and life continues as if nothing happened.

Chamisa should know that no amount of lies and propaganda will miraculously undo his gross leadership deficit, which is the source of his woes.  Spinning falsehoods for political survival will not reverse the mass defections which are emptying his faction to a hollow shell.