DIPLOMATS/ NGO COMMUNITY'S TAKE ON NELSON CHAMISA'S SUPPORT BASE

Confidence or panic? The level of discourse on Zimbabwe's social media sphere was the talk of a gathering of diplomats and the NGO Community recently, with focus the acrobatics being performed by Nelson Chamisa's supporters.

At an Africa Day dinner on 24 May this year, I listened in horror as foreign diplomats and NGO-types dissected what they all agreed was an unbelievable degeneration of discourse on Zimbabwe's social media platforms.

There's defence of the indefensible. Lies. Insults. That much can not be denied. The unanimous agreement around that room was that this behaviour is coming almost exclusively from the supporters of Nelson Chamisa's bit of the MDC-T (Madame Khupe claims ownership of the other bit).

But that was not the revelation of the evening, no.

One diplomat had a perspective that I found difficult not to go along with.

The behaviour you are seeing from those that purport to support Chamisa is informed not by passion, but by panic, he said.

I can see how this can be true. You see, there is general agreement and as I point out in an earlier post, even amongst senior members of Chamisa's MDC-T, that he is going to lose this election to Emmerson Mnangagwa. Of course, until the election is actually held, this is just an opinion.

With the Zimbabwe General Election having been declared for Monday, 30 July 2018,  you will see even more frenzied attacks than the mild stuff you have been witnessing. You will see more assertions that this one will win or that it is a joke to say that one will win.

But opinion or what you think to be the truth, shapes most human action.

So, Mr Diplomat says, because they believe that Chamisa is going to lose, his supporters (the gathering also strongly insisted that most of them are paid to puff him up on social media) then go overboard trying to convince other people that he is 1. the best man for the job 2. going to win.

It is natural, from where I sit. We all know that human psychology tells us that people tend to back a winner. They will back the person who they think is going to triumph. Naturally, you have to say your choice is going to win and hope others believe you and that they will then fall in with your thinking.

From a strategic viewpoint, however, this is an effort that is a recipe for disaster and failure.

Why?

Well, because, if you follow the discussions on social media, Chamisa supporters are not interested in convincing other people to vote for their candidate. The Africa Day Eve gathering was unanimous in agreeing that their effort and campaign is designed simply to shut up dissenting voices, to shut down any debate or critical examination of their candidate.

Those asking questions or seeking clarification are told to keep their one vote. But each vote influences other votes.

Ask David Coltart, who lost his seat in Bulawayo by 19 votes. Nineteen!

Anyway, there is general agreement amongst diplomats and the NGO community that, before the results are even announced, as the unofficial results start to trickle in and rumour goes into overdrive, the very first tweets and facebook posts you are going to see alleging rigging etc will be from the same characters who are currently telling voters to shut up and go with their one vote.

In any country, in any election, a political party of grouping can never get into office by relying purely on their base, they enthusiasts and card-carrying members. They will always need the vote of what election strategists have long called the "Silent Majority".

This is a group much larger than the membership of any political party. It is a much more forgiving group. It is also a much more fluid group. And this is the group that will decide the fate of any candidate in any significant election, in any country.

The Chamisa Brigade is currently doing everything in their power to alienate this group.

As I have always stated, I really don't care one way or the other who actually triumphs in this election. At all.

Always and every single time, a country and a people will get the leadership they deserve. They may not all want it. They may not all agree that it is the right leadership, but the immutable truth remains that at the end of the day:

A people will, without exception, always get the leadership they deserve at any point in time.

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