Opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday described the ongoing attempts to weaken the party by opponents, including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling Zanu PF, as a passing storm the opposition needs to ride out to reach its “promised land”.
The leading opposition party was already fractured when the Supreme Court last March declared that Chamisa’s leadership of the MDC-T was illegitimate and ordered the party to hold an election to replace him.
His opponents took advantage, and a smaller faction led by former secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora recalled 32 lawmakers aligned to Chamisa and over 80 councillors in the MDC Alliance-dominated local authorities.
Mwonzora’s faction also grabbed party assets, including the headquarters, with the aid of police and army details.
Last week saw two former key allies, Midlands senator Lillian Timveos and former Kwekwe Central MP Blessing Chebundo defect to Zanu PF.
But during his presentation of the party’s 2021 agenda in Harare yesterday, Chamisa said he had put in motion strategies to counter Mnangagwa’s machinations to create a pliant opposition under Zanu PF’s “command politics” .
Zanu PF has, however, denied the claim.
Chamisa accused the Zanu PF-led government of engineering the expulsion of his 32 MPs and over 80 councillors across the country, takeover of party offices and channelling of party funds to Douglas Mwonzora’s MDC-T to weaken his political base.
“Rising authoritarianism has rendered the State unstable and saddled with serious contradictions. Unstable oppressive regimes are dangerous to their own citizens,” Chamisa said.
“The second was the crisis of authoritarianism, whereby the regime embarked on a relentless assault and onslaught upon democracy and our party. This assault involved the use of State machinery to subvert democracy and the will of the people. Our party headquarters was forcibly occupied, depriving us of our home. The regime also diverted our funding under the Political Parties (Finance) Act, giving it to its surrogates,” he said in apparent reference to Mwonzora’s MDC-T.
Mwonzora denies being a Zanu PF stooge.
“Despite all these attacks on our party, we refuse to be cast as victims. Rather, we are survivors and winners. When someone works so hard to try and destroy you and they fail, it is because you are strong and you are a winner. We are invincible. We are indomitable. We are unconquerable,” Chamisa said.
He said Mnangagwa was determined to decimate the MDC Alliance for refusing to recognise his presidency.
“The purpose of all this was to punish our party for resisting the illegitimacy of the outcome of the 2018 elections, which lacked credibility and acceptability. The oppressors believed that stripping us of our assets and entitlements under the law would dampen our spirits and break us down. This has not worked,” the MDC Alliance leader said, adding: “This deprived the people of the opportunity to reclaim and correct injustices by ending the criminal abuse of office and blatant theft.”
The MDC Alliance still insists that Chamisa garnered over 2,6 million votes against Mnangagwa’s 2,4 million and accuses the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission of manipulating the result in favour of the Zanu PF leader.
The youthful opposition leader also claims that the Constitutional Court unfairly denied him a clear victory after it upheld Mnangangwa’s electoral victory in the polls held in July 2018.
Chamisa has since refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s presidency, plunging the country into a political and economic crisis.
Chamisa appealed to his party supporters and citizens to fund the party since it has been deprived of finances by the government.
“This year will see us consolidating, showing resilience and resistance. In 2021 we will consolidate our position as a movement that represents the dreams, hopes and aspirations of all progressive Zimbabweans. Oppressors have tried everything to decimate us but we have remained solid,” he said.
“This is not only the year of consolidating citizen action but also the year of resisting the creation of controlled opposition and the march towards one-party State politics. It is the year of both consolidation of our party and resistance to the regime’s agenda of controlled opposition.”
He said Mnangagwa’s “Second Republic” had failed the credibility test and proved to be worse than the late former President Robert Mugabe’s administration, which was characterised by gross human rights violations, plunder of State resources as well as mismanagement of the economy.
“The oppressor cannot reform. The oppressors have failed to reform and actually proven to be worse than their predecessor. The year 2021 will be marked with peaceful resistance and resilience. The language of the oppressed to resist oppression.”
On cartels allegedly linked to Mnangagwa, Chamisa said: “Corruption is killing us. The people have a right to a corruption-free and uncaptured State. Cartels must fall.”
He also touched on the planned eviction by the government of over 12 500 villagers in Chilonga, Chiredzi South, to pave way for a Dendairy fodder cropping project, describing it as “commercial cronyism” which must end.