By Shingirai Vambe
The March 26, 2022 By elections have brought chills to the ruling party in government corridors.
Zimbabwe’s opposition leader, Advocate Nelson Chamisa has remained the people’s choice posing the biggest threat to Zanu PF and its institutions since the birth of real opposition in 1999.
He has faced challenges since 2018 Harmonised elections and the current by-election campaign rallies across the country have proved him to be a contender worth his salt.
Rallies are meant to market candidates, share manifestos and vision to the people who have the last call of their choice. Declarations and agenda setting has been noticed in the country’s 7 provinces and various other constituencies in Zimbabwe ahead of the March 26, 2022, over this weekend.
Being held in March, the Ides of March, beware.
By-Elections have been called after vacancies rose due to deaths and recalls by the Movement for Democratic Change led by Douglas Mwonzora.
Nelson Chamisa claims he garnered 2.6 million votes against Emmerson Mnangagwa of the Zanu PF party in 2018, the opposition disputed the 2018 elections and maintains a stolen vote.
Since 2018 Chamisa has been fighting the ruling party and fires from internal flames which led him to form a new political outfit in February 2022, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC). CCC emblazoned in bright yellow and a new logo has attracted crowds.
Local rallies have been filled to capacity and support across the nation and abroad keeps growing.
Local rallies have faced hurdles to get clearance from the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Looking at the reasons for prohibition of the CCC rallies, political analysts foresee defiance in the future, the gagged freedom is an infringement.
These elections have exposed the police that citizens no longer fear their presence and labelled them political actors, as they are also playing a key role at Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) offices, intimidating and harassing citizens who are approaching the offices for recourse.
This alone, has made the new outfit popular.
The social media has also played its role more than public media.
The ZEC has recently asked the State broadcaster to avail equal airtime for all participating parties.
Some aspiring candidates for the CCC party have decided not to entertain journalists from The Herald and the Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC), and while addressing his party supporters in Mutare, Chamisa, warned state institutions against being mouthpieces of propaganda for the ruling party.
“What caused genocide in Rwanda, it was state media,” said Chamisa.
Without funding and enough resources the party has managed to complete its scheduled rallies with the last one in Epworth Harare
The Binga and Marondera rallies were banned for unknown reasons, but the outcome from the scene in Marondera and Gokwe showed defiance
Citizens are tired of false promises. Suddenly, boreholes are being drilled by contesting ruling party candidates. The electorate is not daft.
The citizen’s party used all remedies at their disposal to fight and turn prohibitions by police, and in all court applications, CCC managed to get orders to proceed.
According to the Act, political parties, are supposed to notify the police of their gatherings not seek permission.
ZEC has also kept quiet on the level playing field of political players while electoral bodies such as Zimbabwe Election Support Network (ZESN) and Election Resource Centre (ERC) were seen busy with the voters roll issue which is yet to see light at the end of the tunnel.
Every election period in Zimbabwe is a threat to human lives, intimidation and violence is the order of the day and the perpetrators are well known, seen walking in broad day light when opposition members spend time in court and prisons.
As witnessed, a life was lost, Mboneni Ncube was killed during Chamisa’s recent rally in Kwekwe and many were left injured.
According to the police report, perpetrators were from the ruling Zanu PF party.
Without busing as noticed with the other party, CCC supporters came from their respective areas and provinces weighing in support for the 29 aspiring legislators and more than 100 councillors to battle it out this Saturday 26th of March 2022.
Analysts, politicians and citizens have described these elections as a watershed, a mini general election.
Having Zanu PF as a candidate, its leader Emmerson Mnangagwa with powers vested in him delayed proclamation of these elections according to the law and stakeholders welcomed the move as a process to see if administrative structures are ready to be used in the general elections expected to be held in 17 months from now.
Regardless of having played a role in the current situation which will see the country losing more than ZWL $3 billion on these by elections, the incumbent, Douglas Mwonzora is pushing for dialogue and government of national unity so he could enjoy the piece of cake apart from the funds he got without running in any election.
In his address, Chamisa dares Mnangagwa, saying he can and will never beat him in any election run fairly, credibly in a free manner.
A number of irregularities have since been pointed out, first and main focus being on the voters roll, which a team of Zimbabwean Citizens have voluntarily committed themselves to scrutinise.
The voters roll is believed to be the main source of rigging used by Zanu PF.
Team Pachedu unearthed a number of anomalies with the voters roll and the commission has failed to give credible answers in that regard with blame placed on the IT department which was later fired for tempering with the voters roll.
In 2018 the commission failed to produce and issue political parties with the final voters roll.
Regardless of being the ruling government in control, Mnangagwa and his party supporters have blamed the opposition political parties for failing to render service in all councils, alleging that they are looting and involved in corrupt activities.
Mnangagwa said the success story of his administration is in the construction of roads and establishing of local manufacturing companies.
However, Citizens have expressed disgust with the tender process which has seen majority of them being given to his (Mnangagwa) ally, Kudakwashe Tagwirei.
Harare mayors and councillors were on July Moyo’s neck with suspensions every now and then.
Parliament and Local Authorities are on autopilot as they were left divided on power struggles between Mwonzora and Mnangagwa, pushing for the same agenda of keeping Chamisa out of the picture.
The formation of the new party created a paradigm shift in the electoral process overcoming all unconstitutional tendencies which 2018 voters suffered for a long time, going without presentation in Parliament for more than 6 months.
Chamisa has told his supporters that the new party is yet to go for internal elections and he is the only leader with few lieutenants helping him in the formation and roadmap towards 2023 general election.
The party is yet to produce its Constitution, Manifestos and agenda going forward to the launch, giving powers to citizens so they can choose leaders of their choice and run party as citizens.
As witnessed in Masvingo, two candidates are fighting for the same post in one ward.
Chamisa gave the voters the mandate to choose a leader of their choice.
He went further to challenge Mnangagwa in Mutare where over 20 000 supporters filled Sakubva Stadium amidst cheer and loud songs.
Chamisa’s rallies recorded high numbers of supporters in the country of both the young and the old seen on social media talking about their misery and thinking Mugabe, Rhodesia were better than the current government. This is the level of destitution the nation has got to.
With limited to no access of State media, Zimbabweans have quickly adapted to the new normal, of relying on social media such as the Tweeter space, Facebook live streaming and other social platforms to cascade information.
The Voice of America, Studio 7 remains one of the most listened ti channel, while regional broadcasters such as SABC and ENCA have also covered Chamisa’s rallies, a move that has left ZBC vulnerable to citizen attacking the tax payer funded entity.
Chamisa promised his supporters that he is going to defend the vote while urging them to register and vote in their numbers while Mnangagwa said what has happened in Zambia will never happen in Zimbabwe.
In his last rally Mnangagwa said he was ready to chase away NGOS in the country while sending chilling killing threats to citizens he claim want to divide the country.
Mnangagwa said such persons have limited days on earth.
Since Zanu PF buses supporters, data of attendances of his rallies is difficult to get.
Political and Media analyst, Alexander Rusero told post on Sunday that the campaign rallies were a contest of optics.
“The campaign have gravitated from what we used to see, a contest of who is pulling more crowds than the other more than the actual reflection, thats why all parties resorted to busing supportes either by bus or lorries.
The messages of the campaign were devoid of substance both Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa, you couldn’t really pick what they stand for, its was just a spectacular show by the two main protagonists in Zimbabwe to demonstrate who pulls the crow than the other,” said Rusero.
The whole campaign issue was also mud by partisan bias of the police in favour of Zanu PF ahead of CCC that why we have numerous rallies of the CCC being barred whilst not a single rally of Zanu was treated the same, added Rusero.
This election is a mirror, a reflection of what Zimbabwe is likely to be like in 2023 unless there are certain intervention by way of reform, by way of policy and legislative reforms. Zimbabwe is likely to be in the same mode of malpractices of elections.
The newly formed political outfit, United Zimbabwe Alliance (UZA) leader, Elisabeth Valerio told this publication that since day 1 they haven’t faced any challenge with the police.
“from the very beginning we want to make sure that we are engaging all the proper authorities so that we don’t face any challenge, and we have been approaching senior officers submitting every documentation as they have requested notify them and they seem to be complying with the MOPA.
From all the areas i have visited, people i have spoken with, they all said we want change. The biggest challenge as a woman is when you try to speak to other women, they seem to be reluctant to engage yet they have an important part to play in politics,” said Valerio.
She further highlighted that Zimbabweans are speaking the same language, they want change, in the political arena Zimbabwe is incredibly polarised, people have very strong views one way or another. Those who fought the liberation struggle against the views and calls by citizens.
“Its been 41 years with the same leadership and politicians, there is need for a new government, Citizens must lead the direction, they should be on the deciding seat,”Said Valerio.
UZA has 4 candidates i for Harare East, MP Candidate, Kuwadzana East, MP Candidate, Mbizo, MP Candidate and Kwekwe Central MP Candidate
The voice and presentation of women in the upcoming by-elections has failed to meeting equal representation both in councils and Parliament.
At Zimbabwe grounds in Highfield, Sakubva Stadium in Mutare, White City Stadium in Bulawayo, Epworth and Masvingo rallies remain the talking points of the most attended rallies ahead of the March 26 By-Elections.
The attendance has sent shivers down the spine of Shake Shake Building that houses Zanu PF.
As it is said, the only way of appreciating people when you visit them is to speak their language, they respect you.
Having traversed the four corners of the country, speaking in a people’s language is the highest respect a leader shows. Chamisa has learned the Ndebele language and speaks with pride.
The race to 26 March is over, the country awaits to be yellow. The future is sun coloured, its bright and yellow with hope for job creation and currency stability.