Zimbabwe ran one of the smoothest, most peaceful election campaigns this year with opposition leader Nelson Chamisa holding twice as many rallies as Mnangagwa.
But the whole process was marred by the violence that broke out on 1 August after the opposition realised that it had lost even before the full results had been announced.
That incident in which six innocent lives were lost (more according to the opposition) tainted the whole election process.
This must never be allowed to happen again.
Chamisa now says he wants to inaugurate himself this weekend because he won the 30 July elections.
He is probably following in the foot-steps of Raila Odinga of Kenya. But unlike in Odinga’s case where television coverage of the inauguration was cut off, Mnangagwa should allow Chamisa to do so and television should broadcast the event live if he decides to go ahead with the charade.
The live coverage of Chamisa’s Constitutional Court challenge of Mnangagwa’s victory scored major points for Mnangagwa because everyone saw for him or herself that Chamisa did not have the “overwhelming” evidence that he claimed to have.
Mnangagwa should not allow law enforcement authorities to arrest or harass Chamisa because that is what he is looking for so that he can remain relevant.
All his antics since he lost the elections are meant to ensure that he remains relevant, nothing more. It is not about the people, it is not about the vote, but all about himself.
Mnangagwa should never fall for the opposition’s old trick under which they thrived under the Robert Mugabe administration.
Zimbabwe academic Blessing-Miles Tendi says in his book: Making history in Mugabe’s Zimbabwe that there was competition among opposition leaders and activists about who gets bashed most as this meant more income and continued survival for them.
“There is competition between activists in civil society over who gets more badly treated, beaten or imprisoned by the state. The greater the history of one’s ill-treatment at the hands of the state, the greater one’s legitimacy as an actor in civil society,” the book says.
The reason for this, the book says, is to create a “permanent Zimbabwe crisis” which guarantees continued donor funding.
This is precisely what Chamisa is seeking.
If Mnangagwa allows Chamisa to inaugurate himself, live on television that would be the end of his political career. But if Mnangagwa stops him or even arrests him, he will have turned him into a hero.
It’s time to ignore him and move on.