The statements by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa seen as trying to raise tribal and regional issues following the High Court decision to disqualify his party’s candidates have been rightly condemned by Zimbabweans.
We add our voice to this condemnation and point to the self-evident fact that the opposition party – if it is to be called that – shot itself in the foot for failing to adequately prepare for the elections including its preliminary processes such as voted selection.
These dynamics have been widely discussed, and were subject of great debate as the issues played out before the disastrous consequences.
However, it is important to point out that the Nomination Courts’ key function is to separate those who qualify and those who don’t, and various factors come into play.
Over the years, and many have fallen at this hurdle due to various issues.
This year, it is not only Mr Chamisa’s candidates who failed to clear the hurdle for whatever reason. Others – from independents to candidates from the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora failed due to procedural deficiencies as well as failure to raise money required to be given licence to run.
As we speak, a presidential candidate, Linda Masarira, has also been barred by the High Court from contesting after failing in her appeal to scrap nomination fees demanded by the lower court.
There is nothing alarming about this.
When it comes to the issue that befell the CCC in Bulawayo, the case is not alarming in of and itself as a procedural or political irregularity.
What is alarming is how the party leader seeks to mine negative political capital out of him by raising tribal and regional tensions.
Mr Chamisa’s remarks may have serious consequences of generating political violence and tribal conflict. The lack of wisdom in his actions is also seen in him trying to open old wounds for remarkably shallow, cheap and lowbrow political reasoning.
In case this succeeds, it will be a huge price to pay for everyone as this election is marred, once again, by violence.
We strongly find this reprehensible. We identify this as behaviour informed by a zero sum approach to national elections, which is bad for nation and peace building. After 43 years of Independence and following ugly spots on our history, including the violence on August 1, 2018, we should know better, and turn a corner.
Alas, Mr Chamisa’s remarks threaten to drag us back to an era that we do not want. It is actually not even better than his followers and supporters – who must as a matter of cause join the chorus to condemn his reckless statements.
The cause of peace transcends individuals, leaders or parties.
Peace is a national good – and it is fragile. We are calling Mr Chamisa out not on a partisan basis, but holding him to account for potentially causing violence which will have grave consequences.
Leaders should fight each other and address the nation on the strength of ideas not incendiary remarks and cheap politicking.
Mr Chamisa must apologise and deescalate the unnecessary tensions he may have created with his Ill considered remarks.