Nelson Chamisa, one of the three vice presidents of the opposition MDC-T, has just turned 40. He reached that milestone yesterday, opening a world of opportunities for him — and a lot of threats, mortal threats, to go with the opportunities. They say life begins at 40.
With Chamisa turning 40, it means that he can now be eligible to run for the office of the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe whose Constitution stipulates that a person aspiring for that weighty responsibility has to reach the age milestone, having acquired enough wisdom of the world to govern and lord over us.
Chamisa is no less ambitious. He is considered, and soaks in the accolade, as the face of young and charismatic leadership to emerge after decades of post-independence leaders like former President Robert Mugabe, his successor President Mnangagwa and MDC-T leader himself, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Tsvangirai is fading away. He is wasting away due to disease and when he announced that he had colon cancer two years ago, he elevated Chamisa to the position of vice president in the organisation. It was widely regarded as a succession plan.
Tsvangirai himself wanted the world to believe as such. Chamisa was appointed alongside Elias Mudzuri, but lately Tsvangirai had appeared to publicly anoint Chamisa (privately, though, he is said to prefer Mudzuri). Chamisa is a perfect, marketable and sellable candidate.
He has the looks and he has the glow of youth. He also has the luxury of time which, combined with his appeal to the youth, make him an ideal candidate of the future. But upon turning 40, Chamisa may be discovering that it is not going to be a stroll in the park. His party is facing a battle for its soul in a bruising leadership battle of which he is, but a third.
There is a madam Thokozani Khupe, who remains the only elected vice president. Mudzuri, who is the acting president in the current absence of stricken Tsvangirai, is trying to find his feet and connect with the people, casting a figure of the elderly, trusted statesman.
There is the broader politics of the consociational politics in the “big tent” that gave us the MDC Alliance. There are personages that would be interested in positions. Within the organisation of the MDC itself there is ongoing skullduggery that may soon manifest to be a fight to the death.
There are those that control structures, people and resources — whatever is left of them. These people may, and don’t, like Chamisa and it is a fact that he has to live with. These internal dynamics cost him the post of secretary-general a few years back.
We had all thought that the position was his for the taking, in his phenomenal rise. On a bad day in 2014, the once shining and ever rising fresh-faced Chamisa was left licking his wounds. He was reduced to a card carrying member and it would take Tsvangirai to give him some semblance of respect in some policy portfolio. Or some such.
Some such unelected position, that is. Which has been his bane. With his promotion to the post of VP, he still carried that air of impotence. He was long emasculated, organisationally. Not even Tsvangirai can save him — at least for now.
Tsvangirai is no longer the factor in the MDC-T — away from that sentimental old, suffering dog no one will like to be blamed for killing. The mercy killing being to ask, boldly, for him to stand down. They all bide their time.
A baptism of fire And to make things worse for Chamisa, at a time that he is plotting his rise, the politics of the country has become more demanding, more cynical. People are more questioning.
It is a new era, after all — the same era when we are hearing some once avowed supporters of Morgan Tsvangirai demanding that he steps down. His time is up. A couple of weeks ago, Chamisa and others went to the United States of America where they met authorities there.
This could have been a routine meeting with the only opposition coming from Zanu-PF and its propaganda machinery. This time, Zimbabweans united to slam Chamisa and company for going “to beg for sanctions”. That narrative stuck.
Many in the opposition questioned why their men had embarked on this journey — signalling a shift of attitudes. It also told us that what had worked for Tsvangirai would not work after him. Much less, inducing suffering on Zimbabweans to force their compliance on political matters.
That episode was bad enough for Chamisa, who, by the way, is MDC-T’s diplomatic face. And it would seem that Chamisa did not learn anything from it. A few days ago, he just made it worse.
At a rally in Mutare, he claimed that US President Donald Trump had promised to give Zimbabwe $15 billion once the MDC-T won. The claim has blown in Chamisa’s face in quite spectacular fashion. The US has disowned that figure.
Not that they would agree anyway. However, it is the sheer mendacity of the claim; the flippancy of the tone and perhaps Chamisa’s naivety that has become topical in the past few days.
Chamisa may have thought that he could get away with murder: that the statement was only meant for the less sophisticated audiences in Mutare. He did not expect the figure to be questioned. Politicians lie, and lie all the time. But this white political lie is haunting Chamisa as we speak.
His enemies are taunting him. His suitability for top office is being questioned. His wisdom is being question — right on his 40th birthday!
It’s going to be a very long year for Nelson Chamisa. He will discover that with age come challenges, a unique set of challenges. Just as he was ready to challenge for honours at the big stage, he may yet find himself grounded.
Extraneously, Zanu-PF has renewed itself and is set to win this and the next elections. This year is out, we are sorry to Mr Chamisa. He will have to fight it out at organisational level — and probably lose. He will only discover his touch perhaps in five years.
That will need a lot of patience.
Forty is when life begins.
And its troubles.
As Chamisa will soon discover. The autochthons will caution about growing-and-seeing.
Article Source: The Herald