Exiled former cabinet minister Jonathan Moyo says Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) president Nelson Chamisa’s major downfall was that he ran his campaign as an independent candidate.
Moyo says Chamisa placed all his attention and emphasis on the presidential race, not worrying about parliamentary or council seats.
CHAMISA RAN HIS CAMPAIGN LIKE AN INDEPENDENT CANDIDATE WITH NO STRUCTURES AND EXPECTED TO WIN AND BECOME PRESIDENT WITH NO MAJORITY IN PARLIAMENT
This is what Nelson Chamisa said on 21 June 2023 about the strategic thrust of the campaign of his CCC in the 2023 harmonised general election held last week:
“our [CCC] campaign is going to be basically a presidential… our [CCC] focus is not to be in parliament but to be in government. We [as MDC opposition] have been in parliament for a long time, that’s not our [CCC] station of choice at the moment”.
The fact that Chamisa thought he could win the presidential election even if, or regardless of whether, his CCC won a majority in Parliament, explains his crushing defeat.
An election in Zimbabwe is defined in terms of section 4 of the Electoral Act which provides that: election” means—
(a) the election of a member of Parliament; or (b) an election to the office of President; or (c) an election for the purposes of the Rural District Councils Act [Chapter 29:13] or the Urban Councils Act [Chapter 29:15]; as the case may be.
These three elections used to be held separately before they were harmonised for the first time in the 2008 election in terms of section 38 of the Act.
It is odd and even irrational, and it defies the logic of the harmonised general election for any political party that seeks power to govern the country as a whole to only target – as did Chamisa in the 2023 harmonised general election held last week –winning only one of the three elections, just the presidential election.
It is foolhardy for a political party to say its strategy and focus is only to win the presidential election, without basing that strategy and focus on winning the local authority and parliamentary elections, as well.
Such a strategy, if it can be called a strategy, renders the presidential candidate no different from an independent presidential candidate who contests for the presidency without the advantage of the structures of a political party.
Simply put, a presidential candidate in Zimbabwe cannot win a presidential election if the candidate does not have a campaign strategy that is based on his or her political party winning a majority of wards in the local authority election, and a majority of constituencies in the parliamentary election. If it’s an independent presidential candidate, then he or she must have ground structures of one sort or another, or forget it.
Chamisa contested the presidential election as if he was an independent candidate, and he boasted about it, without relying on his CCC and without any ground structures.
In the circumstances, just how or why did Chamisa expect to win the presidential election by effectively running as an independent candidate?
Which structures did Chamisa expect to use, or did he in fact use to campaign for the presidency in every street and every village, across the length and breadth of the country?
Since by his own admission, as quoted above and reflected on the attached video clip, Chamisa was clearly not relying on his CCC to win the presidency.
This begs the question: by not relying on CCC structures, and by not having alternative ground structures in the streets and in villages, did Chamisa think that ZanuPF members and supports would vote for him, as an act of God, perhaps?
Was Chamisa’s presidential election campaign, for him an article of faith, in other words was it about his belief that God had chosen him, and that he would win regardless of whether or not CCC won a majority in the local authority and parliamentary elections?
Where did Chamisa and his supporters in Zimbabwe and among the legions of his fans in America and Europe think he would get the necessary number of polling agents to monitor the voting and vote counting at the country’s 12,374 polling stations, and to secure the 12,374 V11s from those polling stations, given the fact that he actually ran for the presidency as an independent candidate, expecting to be supported less by his own CCC party and more by the members and supporters of ZanuPF?
Does this kind of strategy make sense to anyone on earth?
And, does that strategy make sense to Nerves Mumba and his Sadc Election Observation Mission or to any other foreign election observation mission that was in Zimbabwe last week like, say for example, the European Union Observer Mission or any of the several observer missions from the United States that were in Zimbabwe to observe the elections?
How did the various foreign election observer missions and Chamisa’s social media supporters expect him to win the presidential election, not only where and when his CCC party was losing the local authority and parliamentary elections but, and critically, where Chamisa himself did not believe that the local authority and parliamentary elections were important or necessary for him to win the presidency?
The fact that the loquacious, belligerent and inflammatory foreign election observer missions that are peddling falsehoods about the elections, and Chamisa’s social media supporters who claim with no evidence that Chamisa won, did not raise a finger against the results of the local and parliamentary elections that were declared at 1970 wards and 209 constituencies well ahead of the declaration of the result for the presidential election on 26 August, clearly means that there was no problem with two of the three elections that make up Zimbabwe’s harmonised general election.
Only after the declaration of the presidential election result on 26 August did all hell break loose.
It must be asked, again, how did anyone expect Chamisa to win a presidential election whose campaign was – as per Chamisa’s deliberate strategy – organised and pursued as if it was the presidential campaign of an independent candidate?
Chamisa’s presidential election campaign was not based on the CCC parliamentary election campaign or on CCC’s structural capacity on the ground, strangely, it was based on the expectation that ZanuPF members and supporters would vote for Chamisa.
Why on earth did anyone expect ZanuPF members and supporters to vote for someone whose base is ever singing cacophonic noise that ZanuPF must go, and hurling insults at the incumbent party, its officials and its supporters?
What kind of politics is that? You are contemptuous of ZanuPF and anyone associated with it, but you expect ZanuPF members and supporters to vote for you. This expectation does not compute, certainly not in electoral politics.
As things turned out, ZanuPF members and supporters who are registered voters voted for their party candidates in all the three elections: local authority election, the parliamentary election and the presidential election.
As a result, in the parliamentary election, CCC won just 73 constituency seats.
There’s just no way that CCC’s 73 constituency seats in the National Assembly would have boosted Chamisa to win the presidency. No ways.
In Zimbabwe’s first harmonised general election in 2008, Morgan Tsvangirai did well in the first round of the presidential election primarily if not only because the two MDC formations used their round structures to win a majority in Parliament with a combined strength of 110 constituency seats, while ZanuPF garnered 99 seats and an independent got one seat.
This was the first time since independence in 1980 that the opposition commanded the majority in Parliament.
So, clearly, in 2008 Tsvangirai was propelled by the solid parliamentary performance of the MDC formations. The same structural dynamic was conspicuously absent for Chamisa in the just ended harmonised general election.
Chamisa ran a solo presidential election campaign and, predictably, it went horribly wrong.
The fact that CCC did not field local authority candidates in 90 wards made a bad situation worse for Chamisa, and it was further compounded by the fact that CCC did not have ground structures to harness and harvest from the loose and unreliable protest vote, especially in the wards and constituencies outside CCC strongholds, which in fact used to be MDC strongholds in the days of Morgan Tsvangirai!