WHY CHAMISA HAS NO VICE PRESIDENT
...A CLOSER LOOK AT THE POSSIBLE CANDIDATES WITHIN THE MDC ALLIANCE
|from left, Welshman Ncube, Nelson Chamisa and Tendai Biti: Picture credit, NehandaRadio
NELSON Chamisa, presidential candidate of the MDC Alliance in April stated through some of his officials, that a Vice President and therefore running mate, would be named soon.
Five days before the elections, there is still no running mate in sight and there is serious doubt that one will be named. What however is surprising is the fact that no one within the Alliance is finding this odd. Chamisa must have made a deliberate decision that he will not name a VP and runing mate. What could have been the factors at play?
In Kenya, Uhuru Kenyatta ran for President in 2013 under the umbrella of Jubilee Alliance with his running mate being William Ruto of United Republican Party (URP). People knew what that meant as Ruto would bring his Kalenjin vote to join forces with the Kikuyu vote for Uhuru in that country’s ethnically charged voting patterns.
In Zimbabwe, everybody knows who Mnangagwa's running mate is, who is the Vice President General Constantino Chiwenga. This gives legitimacy to the high profile campaigning by a Vice President even in the absence of the President. If anything happens to the Presidential candidate, people know exactly who steps into the show as a Presidential contender.
The MDC Alliance is Complex
The MDC Alliance is more complex than it looks. It is made up of principals who used to be in that the MDC. They are back under the Alliance but each with certain expectations of a bite of the cake. Already one can see that the likes of Tendai Biti are arrogating unto themselves positions of proximity to the President, Chamisa, that they have not been conferred. Chamisa must have realized that if he rushes into appointing any of them Vice President he may ignite more problems than he is able to handle.
Let’s look at what could be the real problem and who, if one were to be appointed, could be Vice President from among the MDC Alliance.
Chamisa’s Current Political Locus Standi
So much has changed between April to date. In April, Chamisa was still fighting with Thokozani Khupe over the leadership of the party. Nelson Chamisa seems to have lost that fight, ceding the MDC-T name to Madam Khupe. During his weekend rally in Sakubva, Chamisa has stated that he intends to abandon the MDC-T name, rebranding the T that stood for Tsvangirai as Tsotsi. This has now been repeated several times with the latest being his rally in Karoi in which he stated that MDC-T stands for Tokoloshi, and is outdated.
I am not a lawyer, but two things of some legal significance play out in the current scenario that impacts the freedom and ability to appoint a running mate. First, Chamisa was chosen as the Presidential candidate of the Alliance in his capacity as leader of MDC-T, just as was the case with Tsvangirai himself. So, if Chamisa is no longer leader of MDC –T, and concedes as much, in what capacity is he a Presidential candidate of the Alliance?
Second, if the Alliance is between MDC-T and Alliance Partners such as PDP, MDC-N, Transform Zimbabwe, ZANU Ndonga and Zimbabwe People First among other fringe parties, the capacity in which Chamisa is a Presidential candidate cannot be on account of being President of MDC-T. If not in that capacity, then in what capacity? We have two brilliant constitutional lawyers in the Alliance and it would be enlightening to know the points of law. These are the people quick to waive the constitution at ZEC and read to us Sections and sub-sections but do not explain this legal logjam.
Technically speaking, Nelson Chamisa has no party at the moment, and painful as this may sound, it needs to be acknowledged. This may also have dawned on Chamisa and his handlers as they contemplated nominating a running mate.
Fear of rocking the boat in the shaky Alliance
The unity of the MDC Alliance was severely tested during the primary elections when complaints were launched by Alliance partners that MDC-T was fielding candidates in areas reserved for them under an Alliance pact reached earlier on by the principals. The choice of running mates is bound to rock the boat even more at a time to close to elections.
One expectation would be that the VP would be offered to one of the Principals of the Alliance. Two names that come to the fore would be either Tendai Biti of PDP or Welshman Ncube of MDC- Both are founding members of MDC who are previous Secretary-Generals of the MDC-party before they left in a huff to form their own parties, protesting what they considered were unconstitutional and undemocratic tendencies of the then party leader, the late Morgan Tsvangirai.
Both politicians have faced waning political fortunes and their parties have been rocked by desertions of high ranking political allies and figures within their parties. They see the MDC Alliance as an opportunity to rediscover themselves. The problem, however, is that none of them seems to have a distinctive asset they bring to the MDC political balance sheet.
Take Tendai Biti for example. He has fast earned himself the reputation of being a politician with an acerbic tongue. His politics is about throwing insults at other people and believes he is the best thing that happened since sliced bread. He gets emotional, petty, and froths on the mouth when agitated. At one time he called Gideon Gono a Taliban, this when Gono was Reserve Bank Governor and Biti was Finance Minister during the GNU. He threw vitriolic insults against Morgan Tsvangirai, his then boss, and called him undemocratic, going on to give him the uncomplimentary nickname Gumbura on account of Tsvangirai’s escapades with women. On the campaign trail with Chamisa, he has insulted Thokozane Khupe and called Obert Gutu a Bush lawyer. This man would be bad publicity for Chamisa, yet he is cunningly lining himself for the position
Tendai Biti would be a bad bet for VP to Chamisa. Yet he is definitely the one positioning himself closest to Chamisa, and might just get it going forward. The two seem to have an understanding, a but Chamisa may need to be reminded that Biti is an ambitious person, and if he brings him closer and closer, then he has to sleep with one eye open.
Welshman Ncube, on the other hand, is a more measured politician and would probably be a better proposition for the post of VP but he brings very little to the table as a bargaining chip. In the 2013 elections, Ncube garnered less than a 100 000 votes and had only 2, 68 per cent of the vote cast for him. Not even one of his parliamentary candidates won a seat, and the two seats his party had were at the benevolence of the new constitution which provided for proportional representation for women. To say he is a failed politician is to be too harsh. I think he was not meant to be one and should have stayed as a lecturer at the University.
The appointment of any of these gentlemen to VP would trigger some undercurrents within the MDC party especially amongst those who stayed while these two Secretaries General left to try their own experiments and failed, only to come back and have the red carpet laid out for them. People the likes of Engineer Elias Mudzuri and Douglas Mwonzora would take this as a joke gone too far.
The other Alliance partners are not even worth talking about as VP candidates, as no one knows who they are or what they do. The Leader of Transform Zimbabwe, for example, Jacob Ngarivhume, was such a monumental failure at the by-elections he has fielded candidates for. Recall the by-elections of 2015 at which Transform Zimbabwe got 116 votes in Highfield; 178 in Dzivarasekwa;. 26 votes in Kuwadzana, 32 votes in Dangamvura-Chikanga 38 votes in Makokoba, and 87 in Mbizo.Surely??
These are potential political minefields that would militate against Chamisa rushing to name and appoint a VP.
The Grace Mugabe Factor.
A rumour that seems not to go away is that a deal has been struck between Nelson Chamisa and MDC Alliance and the National Patriotic Front ( NPF), a party that is openly supported by President Mugabe. The deal, it is said, is based on financial and other forms of support to the Alliance and its Presidential bid by the ex-President and his followers, in exchange for the VP position being reserved for the former First Lady, Grace Mugabe. No evidence exists to corroborate this story, other than the fact that the support for Chamisa from the former President Robert <Mugabe is something Chamisa himself has admitted to, and NPF officials have come out openly in support of Chamisa. In politics, there is no free lunch, it’s a quid pro quo. This is a marriage of two contrasting persons and parties: MDC was formed to fight Mugabe and his ZANU-PF., which Mugabe led for more than 50 years. And vowed to crush MDC. Now Mugabe is teaming up with the opposition he was so sworn to crush, to fight the very same party he led for more than half a century. A real deal has to be struck to achieve this. The VP position could just be the prized trophy in the political deal to win the election for Chamisa.
Perhaps Chamisa does not need a VP at the moment.
If you look at the way Chamisa has risen to power, you have to give it to him that he has turned this whole thing for his benefit. If everything that has happened is part of a choreographed script, then I would posture that it is not in the interest of Chamisa to appoint a VP at the moment.
Chamisa sidelined Thokozani Khupe, and although the matter of the Presidency of the MDC was still contested, he used his political Machiavellian skills to get the MDC Council to endorse him as President and then deployed his organizational skills to hit the ground and sell himself to the MDC membership as the President. Whether Khupe wins the legal battle for the party, she has lost the political battle. You can see Chamisa already conceding to the legal battle of the party and is now abandoning it saying MDC-T is a thing of the past. No one takes him to task for saying so
The interest Chamisa has in consolidating his own power base within the MDC membership would not be helped by appointing a VP, and therefore anointing a contending power source. He is riding on a wave, and it would not be prudent to share the limelight with anyone now.
I think that Chamisa is not looking at the elections but beyond them. If he wins the election, he can always claim that he won this on his own, and this will give him so much power to appoint and disappoint as he wishes. Much more than the power that the supporters of the democratic movement ever wished or hoped would reside in one man.
If however, Chamisa loses, then he will have created a strong power base for himself as the leading opposition party in Parliament.
What is good for us as citizens is to have a strong opposition, to keep the Government of the day in check. What is definitely bad, is to recreate another Mugabe in any shape or form, whether in Government or in the opposition.
We need to wake up and smell the coffee.
And By the way
What exactly is it that some people are aiming to achieve by bringing up personal issues involving people’s private lives into political battles/ I am speaking here about Justice Chigumba, whom I feel has been badly treated. As a woman, I find it very unsavoury for a whole man worthy his stature to take to twitter and think he is scoring political points by challenging people to admit something that if true, is private and personal. You may think you are pleasing many but you are not. You are making a fool of yourself.
My advice to my sister Justice Bae, do not fall into the temptation of dignifying rumours with a response. What we all do behind closed doors is none of anybody's business.
Further, when libel hits you, it does not come through Twitter.