Even before election day arrives, Nelson Chamisa's MDC Alliance has effectively donated 18 seats to ZANU PF.

The full list of the candidates who appear on ballot papers in every constituency was issued and published by ZEC in all the newspapers in Zimbabwe today and it makes for depressing reading for MDC-Alliance supporters who understand the value of not confusing the electorate, especially in the voting booth where they can not ask anyone what is going on.

The MDC Alliance failed to field a candidate in 4 constituencies across the country, including in Mbare, Harare, a traditional opposition stronghold.

In a further 14 constituencies, there are 2 MDC-Alliance candidates on the ballot in addition to MDC-T candidates.

All indications are that Chamisa has decided to throw all his weight behind his own presidential bid, to the detriment of his alliance and his party.

What should worry him more, though, is the presence of the MDC-T on at least 110 constituency ballots across the country. This is a scenario that led to Welshman Ncube gaining 10 seats in 2008, at the expense of Tsvangirai's MDC-T. The MDC Alliance has not really done a good job of communicating the meaning and mechanism behind the Alliance. It took Morgan Tsvangirai 3 and a half years to effectively align his supporters and get them to understand the difference between MDC and MDC-T. Chamisa does not have that time.

You can be certain that in a lot of constituencies, Thokozani Khupe is either going to win the seats or will split the MDC vote enough to allow ZANU PF to squeeze out a victory, even in traditional opposition strongholds.

ZANU PF has 2 candidates on the ballot in 1 constituency across the country.

Name recognition worked well for Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T in the time that they managed to give ZANU PF a run for their money.

However, that is now off the table for Nelson Chamisa.

All indications at the moment are that, unless Nelson Chamisa can pull a rabbit out of his hat, the beating he is going to get in the Presidential poll is going to be so bad that it will definitely look like rigging (remember the shock Tsvangirai got in 2013? Chamisa's looks to be worse than that.)

Talking to people in the urban areas as we are doing is definitely eye-opening. Chamisa and his Alliance will definitely pick up some seats. But these are not going to be enough to give Chamisa his cherished objective of forcing a Government of National Unity on Emmerson Mnangagwa and ZANU PF.

Chamisa appears to have learnt only one thing from Morgan Tsvangirai - which is to pick the lowest common denominator when it comes to advisers for his campaign and his Alliance.

But, with a starting point of 18 seats as good as gone in a parliament of 210 members is definitely not a good starting point.


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