By Thandiwe Manzini
SUPPORTERS of opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa believe their 2023 presidential candidate is in grave danger of political violence from the ruling Zanu PF party members so much that he deserves an all-new bulletproof Toyota Landcruiser SUV.
A social media campaign to fundraise for the pricey armoured vehicle for Chamisa has already kicked off on GoFundMe and close to US$5,000 has so far been raised, 24 hours on. Apart from purchasing the vehicle, the funds will also be used to procure security apparel for the MDC Alliance leader which includes bulletproof vests and other safety paraphernalia.
A total of 122 well-wishers had so far contributed to the luxurious cause, translating to an average of US$40 contribution per member. The opposition party confirmed the authenticity of the GoFundMe effort and urged members to contribute.
The fundraiser organiser T. Basvi, popularly known as Mudhara B, says the initiative is apolitical, noble and is about “providing safety and security for Nelson Chamisa” so that he can safely advance Zimbabwe’s democracy agenda.
The need for the all-terrain vehicle, which the organisers say will cost US$120,000, became glaring after suspected ruling party supporters mobbed Chamisa in Masvingo Province this Monday.
“On 11 October 2021, his motor vehicle convoy was ambushed and attacked by a marauding group of the ruling party’s youths, an attack which left his vehicles damaged and many of his aides seriously injured and hospitalized,” Basvi said, justifying the fundraising effort.
“As diaspora community of Zimbabwe, we want to send a clear message of solidarity by replacing Nelson Chamisa’s vehicle which was destroyed during the recent attacks orchestrated by the regime in Masvingo.
“Together as the diaspora community we felt this is one way we can support the democracy agenda from afar. I have joined other citizens to set up an initiative to support the safety of Nelson Chamisa.”
Basvi added that the fundraising initiative will be registered in the USA and is led by an audited committee, but wouldn’t disclose further details. Previously, MDC Alliance fundraising initiatives ended without audit nor accountability, particularly the post-2018 elections fundraiser for Chamisa’s election petition.
Other orgnaisers of the fundraising initiative include prominent opposition activists Tino Mambeu, Juma Ulete and Henry Jaji.
SVI, a mechanical engineering company based in Pretoria, South Africa, specializes in bulletproofing services for various types of vehicles. The company was yet to respond to a quotation request by the HourlyHits.com for the INKAS BR6 armoured level on a 2021 Toyota Landcruiser SUV.
MDC founding president Morgan Tsvangirai also had a bulletproof BMW X5 SUV purchased for him by his friend and South African national Adrian Espag in 2008. The vehicle was confiscated by police in Lupane in the run-up to the hotly contested 2008 elections.
Police at the time said the vehicle had been improperly imported into the country, and refused to release it even during the time Tsvangirai was Prime Minister from 2009 to 2013. Tsvangirai died from cancer in February 2018, and the armoured vehicle is believed to be now a heap of dirt at the Lupane police yard.
With the 2023 elections fast approaching, political tension is rising across the country as witnessed this week when Chamisa’s entourage drove into a charged crowd of Zanu PF supporters in Masvingo. The menacing crowd comprised of mainly elderly women.
Chamisa met the protesting groups of locals who blocked his motorcade and lampooned him saying the sanctions he called on Zimbabwe were wreaking havoc on their lives.
The MDC Alliance denies calling for sanctions on Zimbabwe and insists that Zimbabwe’s economic challenges are a result of corruption, looting and economic mismanagement by the Zanu PF Government.
The opposition party further says Zanu PF wants to to frustrate democracy by attacking their leader. Zanu PF, however, denies accusations of violence.
The ruling party’s Politburo member Patrick Chinamasa told a media briefing in Harare this week that Chamisa was “mad” to think he could address ruling party supporters against their will.