Observers say they are stunned at the complete absence of any strategy or campaign at the constituency level by Nelson Chamisa's MDC Alliance. It is a criminal neglect of a key pillar of his success as a presidential candidate

Nelson Chamisa, the presidential candidate of the MDC Alliance so carefully and thoughtfully put together by the late Morgan Tsvangirai, is running an utterly criminal election campaign that focuses solely and almost entirely on his own personal ambition only.

Chamisa has convinced all watchers that he does not believe in the Alliance he purports to lead.

Evidence of this is scattered all over the electoral landscape like bodies on a battlefield.

Parliamentary candidates for the Alliance have been neglected and their dejection is on full display around Zimbabwe, in contrast with the candidates of Khupe's MDC and Mnangagwa's ZANU PF. Even independents like Fadzai Mahere in Mt Pleasent are outgunning Alliance candidates in terms of energy, focus and popularity.

The MDC Alliance has confirmed publicly that it is not funding the campaigns of their parliamentary candidates. They have to find their own money to print posters, buy and print t-shirts, hire venues for their constituency rallies and everything else they need to run real campaigns.

Chamisa is concentrating on rallies. He is excited by the crowds he is getting at these rallies, which compare favourably to the crowds Tsvangirai used to get. But he forgets that Tsvangirai, a much more astute politician than Chamisa is proving to be, struggled to turn those crowds into votes, regardless of whether you believe that this was because of rigging or not.

The merit of this approach is not the brief of this article. It has been said by a new breed of supporter for Chamisa, the most vocal and mindless followers we have seen in Zimbabwe since Robert Mugabe's followers, that this is a good thing because it means we will have MPs who have means in parliament, MPs who have enough money of their own and won't be tempted to steal from public coffers.


But the result has been almost complete silence and absence on the ground by Alliance parliamentary candidates.

They are handing this thing to ZANU PF, Khupe's MDC-T and others.

In our own area, the area where we live, our community sent out communication inviting all residents to hear from candidates for MP, Councillor and Senator for our area. The request had come from one of the parties in this election to get us all gathered so that they could pitch their campaigns to us. The community decided to invite all parties to speak to us.

The MDC Alliance did not show up, not their MP candidate, not their councillor candidate nor their Senator candidate.

Our neighbours are all asking the same thing: "Who is standing for the Alliance in our area? What does he believe in? Is he or she competent enough to be sent to parliament?"

There are no answers coming through. This is a solid neighbourhood in Harare, traditionally overwhelmingly in favour of Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC-T.

Yet the ZANU PF candidate is very visible on the ground, Khupe's candidate is very visible also, as is the independent candidate. Neither of the two candidates who are running in our area for the Alliance has been seen. You get that? Neither of them has actually been seen at all in our area.

Does it matter?

It does because Nelson Chamisa is just one person, he needs an organisation behind him to constantly agitate and motivate his supporters.  As is the case in all other national election campaigns in the world, your local candidate is the one who gathers people weekly, every weekend, goes door to door, explains the party programme and defends the presidential candidate on the ground, in his own constituency, educates people on reasons why he supports that presidential candidate, why people should vote that presidential candidate.

Nelson Chamisa has completely neglected this aspect, focusing instead on the rallies he is holding in the country, including in rural areas.

If one is a seasoned watcher of politicians and  their campaigns, one would be forgiven for thinking thinking that the way Chamisa is campaigning means he is clearly not campaigning to win this presidential campaign.

Instead, he is campaigning to build a profile, to elevate his status in preparation for the next election where he hopes to then clinch the presidency.

Posters for Alliance candidates started appearing in our neighbourhoods only this last week. Even then, you have to hunt and actively look for them in order for you to notice them.

No meetings are being held at all.

There are other reasons and complications as well, of course, that inform how this is unfolding and this is where Chamisa's omission comes to fore.

The Alliance is not really a party, you see. It needed to be nurtured, strengthened, fortified as a homogenous entity with common interests, Tsvangirai had the skills for this, had he lived. Chamisa doesn't.

The Alliance has no structures. It has no office-bearers in the communities of our country, who can organise meetings, organise door to door campaigns and the like.

If a candidate for the Alliance wants to organise a meeting for his campaign and he is not from the MDC, what does he or she do?

Does he go to the MDC structures?

Problematic, that is.

Especially if, for instance, you are from NPF, Mugabe's party, and you are running in, say, James Maridadi's Mabvuku-Tafara constituency.

In that constituency, Maridadi, a sitting MDC-Tsvangirai MP, is quite popular. Very popular. He was one of Tsvangirai's right-hand men, being an official in the Prime Minister's Office, even, when Tsvangirai was Prime Minister.

But Chamisa has now fired him from the party, publicly because he insists on running as an Alliance candidate even though the seat has been given by Chamisa to one of the other smaller Alliance partner briefcase parties.

People in that area are against this and do not want to campaign for the person Chamisa has imposed on them in that constituency.

The script is being repeated all over the country.

The Alliance candidates who are going to win are going to do so against huge odds or because, like Chalton Hwende in Kuwadzana, they are aggressively pushing their campaigns.

And why is all this criminal?

It is criminal because parliament is not an afterthought, it is the real battleground for the development of our country. The constitution of Zimbabwe demands that a president picks his cabinet from parliament, with only a handful (five or so) ministers allowed to be non-MPs. Parliament's main role will be to check the powers of the executive, which executive will always, in any country anywhere in the world, try to overreach its powers.

Parliament is the guardian of the interests of all the people of Zimbabwe. It is supposed to protect both ruling party and opposition supporters' interests by making sure the executive plays fair, governs in the interest of the nation and not in its own interest or the interest of its own party only.

Abandoning this responsibility is a politically criminal act by any presidential candidate.

It tell us that the candidate intends to be a dictator, believes that he does not need a majority in parliament to govern effectively or fairly, that he will do what he wants and nobody will be allowed to question him.

Because if he intended to govern constitutionally, he would understand that parliament has immense powers. Just ask Mugabe. A parliament that is hostile to you and your agenda as President can impeach you on the slightest excuse, as long as it follows the letter of the law (and not even its spirit).

Why would a presidential candidate ignore this aspect.

The criminality comes from a myopic focus on the presidential campaign to the detriment of parliamentary poll. It betrays a narcissistic strain in Chamisa which is incredibly dangerous to the putative democracy of the Second Republic in Zimbabwe.

It is sabotage of the very real hopes that millions of opposition supporters have.

So, if you want to understand the results that are going to be announced after the elections, the results that will almost certainly be endorsed by observers as a true reflection of the will of the people of Zimbabwe, come back to this article when others are crying about rigging and an uneven playing field.


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