2023- the year Chamisa sold out


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Citizens Coalition for Change leader Nelson Chamisa has been selling hope to his supporters for the past six years but at the same time he has been systematically tearing the party apart.

This has fuelled speculation that while Chamisa and his supporters have been labelling anyone who disagrees with him a ZANU-PF agent, he is probably President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s hatchet man. Everything that he has done since taking over the leadership of the opposition on 15 February 2018 seems to point to that.

A colleague that I have known since 1996 phoned me soon after the announcement that Chamisa had taken over as leader of the MDC and told me: “Mukoma tanyudzwa.”

I was a bit lost on what he was talking about, so I asked: “What do you mean?”

“Musangano waenda,” he said.

Like most young men, he was sympathetic to the Movement for Democratic Change, so I asked, “how?”

“The young man has taken over,” he said, referring to Chamisa. “He is ED’s boy.”

I was not completely surprised because rumour had been going on as far back as 2003 when a senior party member Trudy Stevenson named several youths, including Chamisa, whom she suspected to have links to the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front.

The speed at which Chamisa took over the leadership of the opposition, hours after party leader Morgan Tsvangirai’s death in Johannesburg, while people were still mourning, and Tsvangirai’s body was still in South Africa, seemed to confirm this. 

Though he claimed to be Tsvangirai’s anointed successor, Chamisa went on to flout the party constitution to ensure that he maintained his grip on the party. Douglas Mwonzora, the party secretary general, said an extraordinary congress to elect a new leader should be held within a month of Tsvangirai’s death but Chamisa did not brook this, though he was the favourite to clinch the post. Instead he somehow convinced the party’s national executive to give him 12 months as acting president.

Chamisa did not want to take any chances as he had done in 2014 when he went to the party congress as the front runner for the post of party secretary-general only to be trounced by Mwonzora at the last minute. Some people argued that it was Tsvangirai who had elbowed Chamisa out, but he was gone now.

At the party congress in 2019, Chamisa won the leadership of the party but he weeded out most of Tsvangirai’s top lieutenants, especially those that had worked with him in the trade union movement including Thokozani Khupe and Paurina Mpariwa, Douglas Mwonzora and Tapiwa Mashakada. 

Instead he packed the party with lawyers most of whom had rebelled against Tsvangirai- Welshman Ncube, Tendai Biti, David Coltart and Job Sikhala, just to name a few, thus ensuring that though powerful they would always be beholden to him for rescuing them as their political careers had been shattered after they cut ties with Tsvangirai.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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