HARARE – Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader pressed the reset button on Monday by announcing the launch of a new political party to distinguish it from its splinter rivals he said are being bankrolled by the ruling Zanu PF party to foment name confusion.
Chamisa said the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) name was now “toxic” and “compromised” as he announced the launch of the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).
The party will use yellow as its colour and its symbol will be a raised hand with its index finger pointing up.
The MDC, launched in 1999, used the colour red and an open palm symbol.
Chamisa made the announcement at a news conference in Harare just two days before the nomination court sits to register candidates for the March 26 by-elections in 28 parliamentary seats and 105 local authority seats.
Most of the by-elections were triggered by recalls of elected MDC Alliance representatives by the MDC-T party led by Douglas Mwonzora, who recently wrote to the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission stating that he would field candidates as the MDC Alliance.
Chamisa said the new party was formed out of consultations with citizens and a realisation that the odds were staked against them in the courts.
“We are putting citizens back at the centre,” Chamisa said. “A new great Zimbabwe is being born. We have a new entity, a new organisation. We have left the past. The new baby is called Citizens Coalition for Change.”
Chamisa claimed that ZEC officials were stunned upon being notified about the new party name. The 43-year-old said ZEC officials initially frustrated efforts to notify them of the new name, delaying the official party launch.
MDC-T spokesman Witness Dube declared that lawmakers loyal to Chamisa elected under the MDC Alliance banner were inevitably going to be recalled by his party.
“They have come out of the MDC because they long left our philosophy. We wish them well in their new season of finding themselves. Our MDC law is no respecter of persons. I don’t see how this is going to end in any other way except to see further recalls to any persons that are going to form or join any new political party,” said Dube.
Chamisa said they came up with the new party name knowing that those loyal to him would face recalls.
He added that his lieutenants were not worried about being recalled from parliament because they understood they were elected by the same people that called for a new party name.
“Nobody has the right to tamper with the mandate of the citizens. If they so choose, so be it, and these MPs are not worried because they were chosen by the people, not these pretenders, tricksters and deceivers,” Chamisa said.
“They were chosen by the people, so we are not going back. These are tough decisions and we are ready.”