Is Chamisa making the same mistakes he made in 2013?


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The pattern almost looks the same. Huge rallies attended by thousands. God being on their side. The only way they can lose is if the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front rigs the elections.

This is not 2018 but the Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai in 2013.

According to Phillan Zamchiya, who followed the MDC-T election campaign for three months in 2013, one of the reasons why the party lost was because of Nelson Chamisa, then the party’s organising secretary.

Zamchiya, in his paper entitled: The MDC-T's (Un) Seeing Eye in Zimbabwe's 2013 Harmonised Elections: A Technical Knockout, says the party ignored the advice from its technical team which was set up by Tendai Biti who was the party’s secretary-general and widely considered as Morgan Tsvangirai’s number Two and instead listened to Chamisa who was the party’s organising secretary.

Zamchiya says party leader Tsvangirai chose to listen to Chamisa than to the technical team in 2013 and predicted that he would get 65 percent of the vote. He ended up with 34 percent.

Chamisa, who is now at the helm of the party, says he will get 70 percent of the vote, if elections are not rigged.

Tsvangirai was 61 and ZANU-PF leader Robert Mugabe was 89 in 2013. Chamisa is 40 and Emmerson Mnangagwa who took over the leadership of ZANU-PF from Mugabe is 75.

Tsvangirai said: “I do not want to take advantage of my contestant’s old age but Zimbabwe will go down in the Guinness book of records if they vote for a 90-year-old. Yesterday’s people cannot solve today’s problems”.

Chamisa whose age gap with Mnangagwa is even wider than that between Tsvangirai and Mugabe says the same thing about Mnangagwa. He is yesterday’s man.

But for Chamisa it is not only Mnangagwa’s age that will alienate him from voters, he also argues that Mnangagwa is incapable of turning around the country’s fortunes because of his long association with Mugabe.

In the 2013 elections, Chamisa was convinced that the MDC-T would win because: “God showed me in my dreams that Morgan Tsvangirai is going to win with a close margin, between 53 and 56%. The small towns are the ones that are going to make a difference, not the big towns. I have since told Tsvangirai this”.

Chamisa is in the hot seat now and he says “God is in it”.

Mnangagwa is using the God factor too. He says “the voice of the people is the voice of God” though he has been using less and less of this sticking to his new mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business” instead.

Chamisa, who is also a pastor, even went a step further during the 2013 campaign and was so convinced that the MDC-T would win that he said: “There is a spiritual dimension to this aspect; that is why no single rally has flopped. I have not eaten for the past three weeks. I have not even taken water. God is amazing, my voice is still OK and my body is still in shape. I am satisfied. As organising secretary, I have run the best campaign ever with meagre resources.”

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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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