Nelson Chamisa is leader of MDC Alliance who is a formidable force as Zimbabwe holds its 2018 elections
Nelson Chamisa, leader of the MDC Alliance

It’s election season, folks. A lot is happening in our political space and things are increasingly getting heated. That’s how it’s supposed to be when elections are impending. The 2018 elections in Zimbabwe are set to provide some interesting aspects, really.

In analyzing how much things have changed, the story must be traced to November 2017. That time, the opposition’s role was fizzling away, painfully. The ruling party was in a tumultuous, yet, reforming period. The military had intervened in the chaotic internecine and bitterly acrimonious struggles. The military imposed Emmerson Mnangagwa who became President of Zimbabwe and long-time dictator Robert Mugabe was shown the exit door.

At that time, the influence and role of the opposition seemed to have been thrown into an abyss, never to be retrieved again. The opposition was almost staring at its own death. It had been caught in a quandary – going against the coup would be an antithesis to their message of “Mugabe Must Go,” that message had almost acted like their raison d’etre, and at the same time going along with the coup was like supporting ZANU-PF yet they have fought the regime in their whole period of existence. Anyway, Mugabe had to go. Mnangagwa enjoyed a massive influx of unexpected goodwill, and rode on the crest of that. An agent for change and reform, with the opposition getting out of the picture.

Then came February. The opposition was dealt a very huge blow. The Movement for Democratic Change-Tsvangirai (MDC-T) lost its iconic leader and founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai. It set in motion a sequence of events aimed at taking power, obliterating other factions, while at the same time paying homage to Morgan Tsvangirai. It was almost confounding.

Nelson Chamisa rose to the fore. Not many expected him to lead a deeply fractured and fragmented MDC-T. Filling Tsvangirai’s shoes was not going to be an easy task. But something had to be done, surely, especially with the elections fast approaching. Many were not comfortable with the way he got power, some citing a myriad of constitutional defects in his ascendance to lead the top opposition party in the country.

He was bashed from all quarters (and is still being bashed) but the support he has received is overwhelming. Since February, Chamisa’s rise has been incredibly phenomenal. It is there for everyone to see. He has held a lot of rallies and from the support of the people he has been receiving, it’s simply fantastic. Perhaps by far the most symbolic action of his support came when MDC Alliance marched for the implementation of electoral reforms. Nelson Chamisa is a formidable force that is simply hard to ignore. And also the launch of the SMART manifesto, a blueprint on governance which makes sense than that of ZANU-PF.

The aggressive State-controlled media has attacked Nelson Chamisa and the MDC Alliance from all fronts, showing how much ZANU-PF are afraid of his impact. There are still many issues that need to be resolved before we head into the election, especially the issue of the voters’ roll.

Nelson Chamisa is a movement people are willing to give a chance. The majority of Zimbabweans are tired of ZANU’s rule. Not to rule out the influence of other opposition parties, it is however clear that Nelson Chamisa and the MDC Alliance are making great strides in attempting to bring change to Zimbabwe, something which ZANU-PF has always grappled with as history and current events are improving.

The 2018 elections in Zimbabwe will leave us with a lot of lessons, really. Some interesting times ahead.

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