MDC- Alliance and the violence narrative

Rutendo Jiri

Nelson Chamisa, leader of the MDC- A has vowed to remain in the country’s rural areas, where he is conducting rural voter mobilisation and registration campaigns.

Chamisa believes that, the 2023 election will likely be decided by the rural vote, which traditionally belongs to ZANU PF, since the country’s independence in 1980.

To aid his campaign, he has roped in Techmag TV, party activists and sympathetic local news agencies to propagate an image that, his rural campaign is a wholesome success.

These stakeholders have proliferated videos and images on Twitter, Facebook and Whatsapp platforms with selected angles to portray Chamisa’s campaign as widely attended by rural folks and paint him as in sync with the common people.

However, what has been interesting to observe is how Chamisa’s propaganda machinery has deliberately used the discourse of violence to create voter sympathy towards the MDC- A, pitting the opposition as a victim of alleged ZANU PF-sponsored violence.

The horizontal narrative being created and circulated on various social media platforms is that, ZANU PF is using violence to destabilise the country’s opposition and will likely do the same in 2023 as it has allegedly done in previous elections.

Conveniently, this well- orchestrated lie has been accepted by some sections of Zimbabweans, who are ignoring the fact that, the opposition leader is the one who is violent and has realised that, violence can keep him in the media debate, thereby giving his rural campaign, a longer life in the face of a dying political career.

An amateur in mainstream national politics, the former student activist relies on hashtags and violence to keep the media talking about his name and party, while seeking to obtain public sympathy as he alleges that he is being politically persecuted by ZANU PF because they are allegedly afraid of him.

It is worthy exposing how Chamisa accurately timed his victimhood discourse at to coincide with the United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur, Alena Douhan’s visit to Zimbabwe, where she sought to investigate the negative effects of sanctions, last month.

Douhan’s visit was widely covered by local, regional and international media- and Chamisa sought to stage-manage attacks on himself and even made the ridiculous claim that, his life was under the threat of assassination.

This week, during the MDC- A’s rural mobilisation and voter registration campaign in Mashonaland West, the opposition claimed that ZANU PF was behind election violence.

“Yesterday, the Mnangagwa regime in #Zimbabwe brought in riot police with dogs from Chinhoyi to disrupt a gathering in rural Zvimba where they thought pres @nelsonchamisa was coming. While ZANU PF can freely assemble @PoliceZimbabwe brings dogs to disrupt @mdczimbabwe,” tweeted MDC- A Mashonaland West.

To cement their narrative, the MDC- A Mashonaland West further alleged that, “the panicking ZANU PF regime in #Zimbabwe sent its militias to another venue in rural Zvimba where they thought pres @nelsonchamisa was coming, they attempted to disrupt violently injuring people but they were overpowered by our Zvimba youths. They stole our tent @PoliceZimbabwe.”

The above seeks to exonerate the opposition’s role in episodes in the country’s political violence, outrightly blaming ZANU PF.

However, while doing his “Meet the People Tours’, President Emmerson Mnangagwa chided the opposition leader for stage managing his own abductions for political relevance.

President Mnangagwa also called on the country to ignore the political skits being played out by Chamisa.

"We should ignore the emotional grand standing by certain elements of our society. We should give them deaf ears. As they try to attract international attention against their own country," President Mnangagwa said.

The President’s calls come on the heels of repeated theatricals by the opposition to pin violence on ZANU PF.

However, the MDC- A remains adamant that ZANU PF is after their leader’s life with MDC Alliance Vice President, Tendai Biti claiming in an article published on once that, Chamisa escaped with his life after a bullet whisked in and out of his rear vehicle window, missing him by a few inches in failed attempted assassination in Zimunya area, just outside Mutare.

"As he drove from Chipinge an unlawful ambush was mounted, gunshots were fired and one of the bullets actually whisked in the left rear passenger seat where he normally sits as a VIP," Biti said after the Mutare incident.

"It is quite clear that there is a desperate attempt, a clear attempt to ensure that our party president does not meet Zimbabweans, we condemn in the strongest terms the actions by Zanu PF that are behind these unlawful attacks on our president both in Masvingo and in Manicaland."

Biti also accused some Zanu PF MPs for organising rogue elements to carry out the attacks.

Despite all claims of violence, President Mnangagwa has called on the nation to prepare to go towards 2023 to witness a free, fair and violent free elections.