OBSERVERS have said that the more than two months it will take for the MDC Alliance supporters to fundraise “a mere” US$120 000 for the party leader’s vehicle shows the support base is demotivated and “sees no way out”.
On 13 October, a group of MDC Alliance members launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise US$120,000 for Nelson Chamisa’s armour plated Landcruiser SUV.
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.
The campaign is driven by MDC Alliance supporters and came after an attack on his motorcade by alleged Zanu-PF hooligans while the opposition leader was meeting grassroots supporters in Masvingo.
Forty-four days later, the campaign has managed to raise just under US$85,000. At this rate, it will take at least 63 days for the vehicle target money to be available, and this has led some observers to conclude that morale in the bruised MDC Alliance camp could be at an all-time low.
Harare based journalist Robert Mukondiwa reckoned that the financial wherewithal of Chamisa’s support base pales into oblivion when compared against the financiers who backed the late MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
Barely year a year after forming the MDC in late 1999, Tsvangirai gave Zanu PF a good run for its money in the 2000 Parliamentary election and the subsequent 2002 Presidential race, with a well-oiled campaign that had vehicles, logistics, intelligence gathering teams, well-paid election agents and campaign material.
“The Tsvangirai MDC of 2002 would have fundraised in record time regardless of the absence of ease of fundraising tools like the internet and advanced electronic transfer systems,” Mukondiwa said.
Others said Chamisa’s loss of party headquarters, Treasury funding, party assets and hundreds of elected officials to the rival MDC-T camp was not good for any potential funders.
“Instability in the cockpit chases away funding and Chamisa is yet to do anything that gives confidence to people with money that if they invest in the party, the assets will be safe. Even the party name he is childishly insisting is his, we all know it will end in tears shortly before the 2023 elections. In short, we have no solid foundation,” remarked one Nyasha Chirimbe.
Another journalist Edmund Kudzayi, who rooted behind Chamisa in the 2018 elections, also torched a social media storm when he insisted that many people who backed Chamisa in the past election “have disconnected”.
“The extended time it is taking to raise funds for Chamisa’s armoured vehicle should concern the MDC Alliance. It points to a demotivated base. Barring a few fanatics, many people have disconnected. They don’t see a way out,” Kudzayi declared.
But many opinion leaders feel a comparison of Chamisa’s circumstances to Tsvangirai’s was problematic in many aspects. Tsvangirai had huge corporates backing him, as well as an angry of commercial farmers who were still smarting from losing land to the Government’s accelerated land grab.
However, even long after the 2000 elections, Tsvangirai’s MDC still managed to run well-oiled national elections with no reports of unpaid election agents as happened under Chamisa, others observed.
But probably the biggest take-home point raised by supporters of Chamisa is that pulling in US$84 000 in just over a month was not bad considering the depressed nature of Zimbabwe’s economy. The payment options available on GoFundMe campaigns are unavailable to the majority of Zimbabweans who earn in RTGS and have limited access to nostro accounts.
“But there is a huge diaspora community, with a reported 1 million Zimbabweans in South Africa alone,” another observer noted. “If MDC Alliance admits that it’s fundraising is slow because local supporters have no access to credit cards, then that leads to the conclusion that Chamisa’s claimed diaspora supporters are mere noisemakers on social media who don’t rise to the occasion when the party needs their support.”
Recently, opposition leader Jacob Ngarivhume threw his weight behind the fundraising initiative as he also urged opposition supporters to raise money for polling agents ahead of the 2023 elections.
“If as citizens we cannot raise US$120,000 for Chamisa’s car, how are we going to raise millions needed to support polling agents across the country?
“This country needs reforms now. Reforms that will safeguard people’s votes no matter what. Reforms that will allow all citizens no matter where they are in the world to vote for their preferred candidate for the position of president,” said the Transform Zimbabwe leader.
Some noted that the MDC Alliance recently had transparency issues with a fundraising meant to contest the 2018 election results at the African Union.
“We were made to pay for the election petition which never happened. When we queried what happened to our funds, we were told we were Zanu PF members who deserved no response,” one Zimbabwean in the diaspora says.
She adds: “We are not fools. We see some latter-day activists bashing some of us who seek genuine answers to issues of funding. 2023 is not far and some people will see how angry some of us really are. The party is corrupt and that has demotivated some of us. Yes, we have disconnected as Edmund intimated.”
Still, some hardline supporters of Chamisa see the fundraising progress so far as fair.
“Remember that this is a private fundraising initiative, by that I mean Chamisa himself has not publicly made an appeal for the donations. If he makes one appeal even this Thursday morning, I can tell you that the funds will be raised in full by weekend and Chamisa will have the bulletproof vehicle in no time.”
Whatever the case, it remains clear that even the momentum of the fundraising initiative has been ebbing off. In the first 24 hours after launch, the campaign raised US$5,000 and that led many to project that it would take just over three weeks to be done with.
At this present rate, even the 60 days might be an overestimated.