Chamisa has all the markings of a dictator

CCC leader Nelson Chamisa


By Fungai Chiposi

The manner in which Nelson Chamisa took over the leadership of the MDC-T, raised alarm bells in me. I engaged with him and highlighted that this was not the correct way to assume leadership. As a lawyer, he understood the MDC-T constitution and was duty bound to uphold it. As a responsible citizen, I could not bring myself to support a leader who could not stand with his constitution. What guarantee would I have that he would uphold the constitution of the country if elected President?

I have sensed that Chamisa is a dictator for a while but held back and ignored the warning bells in my mind. I held back because I was afraid of being attacked and labelled by hordes of Chamisa Chete Chete supporters on social media. I held back because I had my own campaign to run in Southerton Constituency and did not want it harmed by airing such a sentiment, especially one so subjective and dividing. I simply had no time for the debate. I held back because I thought I was wrong. I held back because I said it was not my business. I was wrong in all those reasons.

Building Zimbabwe is a collective effort that is above race, tribe, sex, gender, political party allegiances, fear of the unknown, protection or preservation of one’s ambition and any other. Building Zimbabwe is the primary, central and ultimate goal of every citizen of this country and at its pith, is freedom of expression. To be more precise, everyone must be able to speak their unvarnished truth, openly debate such, accept or refuse alternative truths and facts where they are given, without taking offence, giving or receiving insults and fearing for safety of self and family.

Chamisa is a dictator.

I have talked to a few people who knew Chamisa when he was at Harare Polytechnic. They paint a picture of a young man who always wanted to get his way. He had a group of friends who would drink with him and were rowdy and would do his bidding when called upon to. Chamisa replicated this trait when he went into the MDC-T, founding and manifesting within the party, the Vanguard. Notably this violent arm of the party initially comprised of people hailing from Kuwadzana where he was a Member of Parliament.

His campaign was the biggest red flag for me. Chamisa focused on himself. He did not support his MPs nor Councillors but instead focused on a solo act to see himself elected as President of Zimbabwe. I cannot speak to his interaction with MDC structures but his public image showed a man who was not working in tandem with fellow cadres. He ignored hierarchy, marginalised and ridiculed those opposed to him, leaving them open to attacks by rabid elements in his new party. This most definitely whipped everyone in line and ensured there were no voices from within the MDC except him.

It has escaped most people’s attention but Chamisa ran throughout his campaign without a Vice President nomination. Images of Chancellor Hitler come to my mind. Even President Mugabe quickly comes to mind too. Power is so centralised to the dictator that he does not share the limelight and if shared, it is shared with a weak and amenable personality. I shudder to think what was going to happen to this post had he won the Presidency he so craved.

His relationships with his Alliance partners were a farce. The great Morgan Tsvangirai would allow his partners time to speak their views and even be lead in rallies. Chamisa’s relationship with the partners can be interpreted as abuse. The partners were ignored, marginalised and had promises revoked with no explanation. I have never met Jacob Ngarivhume in person but have always been warmed by his love for the country and the movement he was creating. It was all shredded under the Alliance and I wonder if the man still has a party to go back to.

I sat before Elton Mangoma and listened to the man speak. He is a sage of our times, very statute and awake to the realities of our democracy today. I have talked to many opposition leaders and prominent MDC members, including working briefly with Amai Khupe; these leaders would have greatly enhanced Chamisa’s campaign and standing. Yet true to his dictatorial tendencies, he side-lined, ignored and or ostracised many of them, harvesting fear within the MDC and creating a band of YES man around him.

In this era of women emancipation, I was shocked by his utterances regarding his wife and some of the statements regarding women, in particular his sister. Offering his sister as an election bet was a huge red flag that reflects his view of women and a trait attributable to dictators. His lack of empathy shows itself in his remarks where the marginalised, women and those living with disabilities are rarely mentioned. He stood aside while his aids threw an unknown substance into the eyes of a fellow cadre when the cadre asked for answers regarding allocation of seats.

While it appealed to many young people, his generational consensus mantra was a tool to divide and rule within the MDC, where the old guard was silenced. He mixed politics and Christianity adroitly to cast himself in the image of a leader beyond reproach. To criticise Chamisa is criticising the will of God and insults rain from his faithfuls who come with no logical arguments but ridicule and threats. A true leader does not grow worshippers but supporters who are encourage and empowered to critic him or her.

The lies that Chamisa uttered in this campaign were all red flags to huge character flaws in the man. He lied with neither remorse nor fear of consequences because his only goal is to stand at the top regardless of the consequences. The lives of supporters and bystanders that were lost are not important to him as long as his goal is achieved. Only his ambition matters and everything else can be sacrificed. This is most clear in his standard phrase, “ndozvidira jecha.” (I will spoil it with sand.) This statement is full of spite and rancour, true to Chete Chete (Only) mantra.

The end for most dictators is sudden mainly because they remove all avenues of listening to supporters. They surround themselves with men and women who tell them what they want to hear, leading to dictators not seeing the errors of their ways. The election petition was one such disaster for Chamisa. After handing Zanu PF a super majority in parliament due to his campaign method, his first instinct was to fight for himself, leaving all losing MPs exposed. With no collective institutional memory of the MDC to help, he repeated 2008 errors by not collecting and collating results meticulously, choosing instead to grandstand in front of the media. His petition to the Constitutional Court was so flawed and without evidence.

His reaction to both the initial loss in 2018 elections and subsequent Constitutional Court speak to the core of the man. Losing is not part of his vocabulary and he will pour sand on anything that does not involve him. It is a right of candidates to challenge election results but there comes a time when a leader gives priority to his followers and his country. Chamisa has no values that extend beyond himself. The similarities between him and Robert Mugabe are very striking. His lack of empathy after getting more than 30,000 workers fired without benefits and on 3 months’ notice is disturbing.

For a long time and up to today, Zimbabweans believe that progress and prosperity lie in the demise of Zanu PF. The power for change lies in us as individuals. The actions we take in our daily lives and what we do in our communities brings the change we want. Entrusting all our hope in a man only means we will recreate the monsters we are running away from. Every leader must be fearlessly questioned and never worshipped. Let us learn from where we have been. We must stop creating dictators nor encouraging any in the name of freedom. The Nhingi Chete Chete (this person only) mantra must end with this just ended election.

Fungai Chiposi is a losing Independent MP Candidate for Southerton Constituency

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