By Guest Writer
IT is just over 20 months to the next general election and the main opposition is getting weaker and more divided every day with no intention of closing ranks for the good of their supporters.
According to the latest World Bank country statistics for Zimbabwe posted on its website, 68% of Zimbabweans are in rural areas. An opposition party which is serious about winning the next elections must be speaking daily to these rural folks by way of organizing cells there.
Prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono in one of his many commentaries about political happenings in and around Zimbabwe made a valid point this Wednesday when he said the MDC Alliance carries lots of goodwill from fed-up Zimbabweans but it is critically failing to organize the anger into real votes.
To buttress his point, Chin’ono shared a clip of a youth in Nyanga South confronting area MP Supa Mandiwanzira of Zanu-PF over absence of basic facilities in a rural community around Juliasdale. While the clip is old, it is poignant in that it shows a rural community frustrated with Zanu-PF but equally aware that the alternative, MDC Alliance, is not nearby to seize the moment.
Chin’ono goes on to indirectly challenge Chamisa to ‘provide leadership’ and transform the frustration in rural arrears into MDC Alliance votes. More importantly, Chin’ono tells the opposition supporters to stop defending mediocrity in their party if they ever hope to defeat Zanu-PF in an election.
“… the opposition needs to properly organize itself in rural areas off camera and off social media… how will the MDC Alliance organize itself where these (rural) people are clearly fed up?” said Chin’ono.
“Instead of defending the mediocrity, MDC Alliance supporters must know that they will NEVER win until they address the real issues. Provide leadership!”
One Simon Macheka reckoned that Chamisa must be considered among the unfocused youths that prominent journalist Hopewell Chin’ono is always furious about.
“I think there’s a leadership void especially in the top echelons of the MDC Alliance. The president is probably the most passive president in the history of presidents, Job Sikhala is active and bold, but he doesn’t have mass appeal and is sometimes petulant with his speeches.
“Biti makes a very good political analysts,almost like he’s not a politician himself. There isn’t much to expect from the MDC. Tsvangirai led from the front, our youthful Chamisa is a backbencher, waiting for the people to carry him to the State House. I think Mr Hopewell you should add Chamisa to your list of ‘unfocused youths’,” Macheka remarked.
The frustration among MDC Alliance supporters is real, justified and growing even tense by the day. The party has the cause, the supporters, the political anger and all the necessary ingredients required for an opposition party to cause the ruling party sleepless nights. All that lacks is a strong leadership that dumps the comfort zone of Twitter and gets its hands dirty organizing party cells in the rurals.
Nelson Chamisa, on whom most anti-Zanu PF supporters pin hope for change, is a pale shadow of his former self. At best, he comes out of wherever he’s hiding and attends a funeral where pictures are taken for social media glory. He throws one or three soundbites for cameras then retreats back to his hiding hole, awaiting for the next funeral.
At worst, Chamisa is on Twitter saying all the good things his party will do if elected and all the bad things Zanu-PF did and continues doing. Yet Chamisa’s party is rarely visible on the ground to recruit members and endear itself with the potential voters.
Chamisa does not need to always be on the ground leading from the front. The party has organs whose duty is to get dirty and grow the party membership. However, most such leaders, just like their boss, spend hours on end on Twitter harvesting likes, shares, retweets and quotes.
At 43 turning 44, Chamisa is not a youth anymore. He, together with South Africa’s EFF leader Julius Malema, are among the most prominent opposition leaders in the SADC region, but Chamisa is the least focused of them all. That should worry those who support him and have invested their love, time, resources, and support in his hands.
We are in a lockdown and of course it will be difficult and irresponsible for the MDC Alliance to organize a political gathering as of now. But if the lockdown was to be fully lifted tomorrow, will the MDC Alliance choose to hold a rally in Nyanga or Dete or Tsholotsho to set up structures in rural areas — or it will choose to protest before cameras amd confront police in Harare for the US Embassy to retweet the images? Your guess is as good as mine.
To repeat the free advice Hopewell issued, Chamisa’s party “needs to properly organize itself in rural areas off camera and off social media”. He needs to focus and not lose grip because his social media platforms is trending. The voters are out there in Nyanga South, Binga North and Insuza. □