Why Chamisa will lose elections

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THERE were few surprises when the battle to gain control of the MDC-T resulted in many broken limbs and a deeply divided party that is now staring yet another embarrassing electoral defeat in the eye.
On July 31 2013, the MDC was hammered by ZANU PF in an election that signalled the death of the opposition party.
Professor Stephen Chan, one of the MDC’s long-time strategists, described ZANU PF’s victory as the biggest defeat of Britain’s foreign policy in 60 years.
He was right because the British are now in talks with ZANU PF over possible renewal of ties between the two nations.
But the writing had long been on the wall for the MDC, way before that demoralising defeat.
On one hand was a supercharged ZANU PF standing on their way to State House after it had expertly manufactured a catchy campaign message.
ZANU PF has reinvigorated itself once again.
On the other was a mixture of arrogance by the MDC officials in the so-called inclusive Government and their failure to come up with sound economic policies.
The MDC has failed once again to come up with sound economic policies.
In the meantime and as is the case now, ZANU PF was on the ground, embarking on an enticing campaign that swept the voters off their feet with relative ease.
Elsewhere, miffed Western governments, their backers for so long, immediately pulled the plug on them while ‘angry’ non-governmental organisations (NGOs) helped themselves to money meant for the MDC-T’s campaign.
Suddenly all hell broke loose.
There was nowhere to hide for the embattled MDC-T.
There too, was no backup plan to aid their campaign.
And history, forever the uncanny holder of time that it is, stands ready to repeat itself on July 30 2018.
It is back to familiar territory for them now.
The late Morgan Tsvangirai treaded the same path that Nelson Chamisa is taking, enmeshed in a sea of damaging scandals, gross incompetence and a party that had failed dismally to connect with the masses.
On July 30 2018, Chamisa will enter the ring on the back of similar issues that led to Tsvangirai’s drubbing.
But it was the manner in which they lost the 2013 elections that will have no doubt left Chamisa in the dilemma that he finds himself currently in.
His party had no clear plan as Tendai Biti, the then secretary-general, said.
The MDC-T’s strategy was centred around Tsvangirai’s reprehensible ‘Mugabe must go’ message.
It found no takers.
Former President Robert Mugabe went courtesy of ZANU PF’s internal processes.
And Chamisa finds himself in exactly the same situation that Tsvangirai was in.
He was the party’s organising secretary in 2013.
That was a position where he was supposed to mobilise voters for his party and to come up with a campaign strategy.
MDC insiders have told this publication that he ‘prophesied’ that his party would ‘wallop’ ZANU PF.
There is lack of a clear message to woo the voter.
His constant invocation of Tsvangirai’s name immediately places him in a position where failure is a given.
During his time, Tsvangirai became synonymous with failure.
Making the situation untenable for the MDC has been President Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa’s re-engagement drive.
Several opinion polls are not making the situation any better for the MDC.
They are pointing towards another resounding victory for ZANU PF, a fact that sources close to Chamisa have also confirmed.
As was the case in 2013, the MDC has swiftly dismissed those poll opinions.
Several surveys from the likes of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), AfroBarometer and Mass Public Opinion Institute (MPOI) and pronouncements from MDC-T allies, among them the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), Concerned ZCTU Affiliates, Zimbabwe Vigil and Sokwanele, all pointed to a victory for ZANU PF at the July 31 2013 polls.
The US, which was one of ZANU PF’s fiercest critics, sensing trouble for the MDC, gagged one of its think tanks, Freedom House, from releasing survey results that indicated a crushing victory for ZANU PF in those polls.
During that time, The Guardian, Britain’s flagship publication, had predicted a victory for ZANU PF.
In an article by David Smith, the paper cited the efficiency of the ZANU PF campaign as reason for the MDC’s defeat.
“Running for election for the seventh time, he (President Mugabe) is widely tipped to beat his rival Morgan Tsvangirai in Wednesday’s poll — and to be ushered back into respectability by a pragmatic West,” read the article in part.
The Independent, also of Britain, tipped ZANU PF in an article headlined ‘Odds stacked against Morgan Tsvangirai as Robert Mugabe scents victory in Zimbabwe’.
“Robert Mugabe looks like he can smell victory again … the odds seem stacked against 61-year-old Tsvangirai replacing the 89-year-old Mugabe, who has held power continuously in the 33 years since Zimbabwe secured its independence from Britain,” said the paper.
A more damning assessment came from Chan in his book that he co-authored with Julia Gallagher.
Titled Why Mugabe Won, the book which was published on June 9 2017 reveals why the MDC will find it difficult to win elections in Zimbabwe.
It says:
“The opposition offers nothing tangible or ‘ideal’… It did not have loyal members that were sold into the cause… ZANU PF has got supporters and the opposition has got sympathisers. Supporters are loyal — even if things are going wrong they will continue to support.
They contribute to the party. They believe in the cause.
And the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has sympathisers — disgruntled ZANU PF people, with scores to settle, opportunists.
Some are genuine activists.
There is no ideological connection between the sympathisers and the MDC.
They are more fluid.
You can’t count on them.
They can abandon the ship.”
With just weeks before the elections, the odds are heavily staked against Chamisa.

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