The former Prime Minster and long-time leader of the MDC-T opposition party has been laid to rest after an arduous battle with cancer.
Indeed he fought a good political fight in his time and will certainly be remembered in the history of Zimbabwe as one of the country’s leading lights, particularly in the post-independence and post land-reform phases of our history.
However, his greatest shortfall (as with most African leaders) is that he failed to resolve the succession issue in his party timeously.
Put plainly he did not have in place a succession plan by the time of his departure.
I have argued before, and I will state again here that clear succession plans should be explicitly put in place in every institution, especially if the institution intends to ensure that there is continuity after its leader departs.
This is true in families, family businesses, corporates, political parties, and any other form of organization.
Every institution must have a clear and explicit formal succession plan.
Having said that, recent events in the MDC-T serve as examples of how things go terribly bad when succession is not handled well in politics.
Zeal without Knowledge
Proverbs 19:12 reads “desire without knowledge is not good how much more will hasty feet miss the way!”
Like many Zimbabweans, I marvelled at the haste with which Nelson Chamisa and his faction anointed themselves as heirs to Dr. Tsvangirai’s throne almost immediately after Morgan Tsvangirai’s death was announced.
In fact before the late opposition party leader’s body had arrived at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International airport, Chamisa and crew had already called for a National Council meeting which hastily elevated Chamisa to the position of acting President for a 12 month period.
Immediately after that National Council meeting, pastor Chamisa addressed a song-and dance rally outside of Harvest House during which he declared himself leader to the unsuspecting and impressionable crowds of the MDC-T political laity who were innocently waiting to hear about Dr Tsvangirai’s funeral arrangements.
Instead, they were mischievously misled into believing that Nelson Chamisa was their new leader.
Yet, by calling for the 14 February 2018 meeting at Harvest House, and furthermore by addressing his self-anointing rally on the same day, Nelson Chamisa showed the world his unbridled desire to be president of the MDC-T, and his willingness to exercise haste in order to achieve those ends, yet foolishly so.
If Nelson Chamisa is as popular as he assumes he is, then why couldn’t he wait a few days for Dr. Tsvangirai to be buried before engaging in his succession politics?
It is my view that the rally held by Nelson Chamisa’s faction on February 14 outside of Harvest House was the major cause for the violent episodes that we saw during Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral.
The fact is that the crowds that he addressed on 14 February consisted of youths, undoubtedly inflamed on chibuku, bronco and cheap liquor, who then took pastor Chamisa’s populism as gospel and that is where the danger began.
That was his first mistake.
Violence is Inexcusable
In 2014, the then MDC-T deputy treasury-general, Elton Mangoma and secretary-general, Tendai Biti were assaulted by a group of party youths for allegedly calling for leadership renewal in the party.
At the time they said they were attacked by “a drunken mob” and it was alleged that Nelson Chamisa was not far from the violence when Mangoma et al got thumped.
You see the reason why nobody believes Nelson Chamisa’s statements attempting to distance himself from the violent episodes at Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral, is because he has been suspected of instigating violence before.
In fact a 2014 report of the Elton Mangoma related mayhem stated that “a four-minute, six seconds security video taken during the melee… saw Mangoma beaten up with punches and slaps all over his body by party youths, places Chamisa smack dab in the center of the incensed crowd, a few minutes before the assault.
“Standing amongst the crowd, which was singing and chanting, baying for Mangoma’s blood, snapshots from the video show Chamisa relating to some of the gathered youths.”
You see, given his reported participation in Mangoma’s 2014 attack, it is difficult to believe that Chamisa was not involved in the violence at Dr. Tsvangirai’s funeral, or in Dr. Khupe’s 2017 attack for that matter.
It is also therefore difficult to believe his statements distancing himself from the recent drama.
Given the intra-party violence that has occurred in the MDC-T in recent times at the alleged instigation of Chamisa, firstly against Mangoma and Biti and later against Khupe, one could be forgiven for thinking that pastor Chamisa is thuggish.
Apparently they charged “Chamisa, Chamisa” as they charged at a retreating Dr. Khupe.
All this unethical tomfoolery brings to mind the saying “You can take the homeboy out of Kuwadzana East, but you can’t take Kuwadzana East out of the homeboy.”
For a long time the nation has given Nelson Chamisa the benefit of the doubt, saying he’s youthful and educated.
However based upon recent events, it would seem he’s also power-hungry and violent.
His haste and desire for power have made him miss the way. That’s unbecoming of the political pastor.
My own view is that Nelson Chamisa is politically immature, and cannot capably fit the shoes of the late Dr. Morgan Tsvangirai. First it was his Trump and 15billion debacle and now this.
I think it is safe to say that Nelson Chamisa a local leader that should be confined to Kuwadzana East. He is not a national leader and in fact he has a lot of growing up to do politically.
Furthermore, my perception is that the constitutional leader of the MDC-T is Dr. Khupe, and she should be in charge of the party until the next congress.
Also, it would seem that Nelson Chamisa’s shenanigans have discredited him as a potential leader of the MDC-Alliance, and it is probable that Dr. Joice Mujuru will soon become the new face of the coalition.
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