Would-be Zimbabwean president Nelson Chamisa has claimed that current first citizen Emmerson Mnangagwa is nothing like the late statesman Robert Mugabe, and that he would “beat him” if a snap election was called today.
MDC Alliance leader Chamisa said that Mugabe at least had a bag of tricks at his disposal to win people over, but Mnangagwa wasn't in the same league.
Though rallies are outlawed in the country because of Covid-19 lockdown measures, Chamisa seized an opportunity to visit Charumbira village in Masvingo to see the family of Joseph Mutema, a veteran member of his party who died in August this year.
“That brother of mine who likes wearing a scarf [Mnangagwa], I can beat him [electorally] in broad daylight. Mugabe would at least confuse people with English, but this one, he can’t. He also can’t read, he has no vision. He’s unpopular, he has no friends,” he said.
Charumbira village falls under a staunch Zanu-PF-supporting chief, Fortune Charumbira, who is also the president of the Chiefs Council of Zimbabwe. Mnangagwa rose to power under the Zanu-PF banner.
Masvingo province in southeast Zimbabwe is home ground to Zanu-PF, which won all 24 rural parliamentary seats. The MDC Alliance bagged only the Masvingo urban constituency in the controversial and hotly contested July 2018 general elections.
For Chamisa to get to Mutema's house was not easy. His convoy of 13 cars was attacked by unidentified assailants. But the MDC Alliance claims it was Zanu-PF hooligans, with the help of the police, who were responsible.
In response to the attacks on Chamisa, Zanu-PF claimed extreme provocation by the MDC Alliance, resulting in the ambush and violent attacks.
Zanu-PF’s political commissar Patrick Chinamasa told journalists that the MDC Alliance was trying to force themselves onto people who didn’t want to hear their story.
“Villagers did not want to be addressed by him [Chamisa] for obvious reasons. If you listen to a madman, you become part of his cast. You will be portrayed as part of his cast, he will then go ahead and say, 'I have lots of support.' Which he does not have.
“So our Zanu-PF people have a right to say, 'we don’t want you to address us, we don’t want to, it’s my right. But if you force me to listen to you, I have reason to be angry',” he said.
Sources in Zanu-PF told TimesLIVE there would be a fact-finding mission to establish how Chamisa managed to penetrate the area. Since his arrival, police have mounted roadblocks on major roads and are conducting searches on cars.
Chinamasa added that the MDC Alliance was being aided by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the area and soon Zanu-PF would advise its supporters not to work with the NGOs.
“We will be writing a directive mentioning the NGOs that are proxies of countries wanting to topple the Zanu-PF government.
“We will tell our supporters, 'don’t have anything to do with those people, don’t associate with those people. They are no good, they are going to bring misery to you',” he said.
But information secretary Nick Mangwana said he found it strange that there were such fissures just a week before the UN special rapporteur on the negative impact of unilateral coercive measures on the enjoyment of human rights is expected in Zimbabwe.