Rewind to the day!
The campaign for the August 23 election is in full swing. Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) supporters are trickling into an open space close to Rudhaka Stadium in the farming town of Marondera, Mashonaland East province, with all members immaculately dressed in the party’s yellow regalia carrying Chamisa’s portrait.
Elderly supporters, some having walked from neighbouring farms look energised and walk with a spring as they make their way into the venue. But their guest, Chamisa is nowhere near the scene.
The crowd waits patiently as time ticks away.
Like sniffer dogs, journalists get wind of reports that the opposition party leader has landed in the farming town and that he is meeting stakeholders at the former Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister Jameson Timba’s house in the leafy suburb of Winstone Park.
It’s a closed-door meeting.
NewsDay Weekender, however, has sources planted among the stakeholders who include church leaders, resident associations’ representatives and business people.
During the meeting, Chamisa keeps expressing doubts over his top brass’ capacity to launch a formidable campaign to unseat the ruling party Zanu PF.
Chamisa, according to insiders, reportedly confessed that he “was alone” in the battle for a “New Zimbabwe” and described “others”, meaning his lieutenants, as cowards who are not brave enough to face the elephant in the room — Zanu PF.
“I am lonely and tired, but I’ve got to do it. You are wondering why I am moving around the country alone, we are not close as you might think,” Chamisa told the delegates.
“He was open, he told us that he was lonely and that other top party officials were not ready to lead from the front,” said the source.
In the run-up to the polls, Chamisa cut a lone figure as he traversed the width and breadth of the country, at times holding three rallies per day leaving naysayers and sympathisers wondering why he was not delegating and assigning others to assist him.
At one time, he addressed a rally at the foot of a mountain after breaking a prayer session.
“He also told us that he was tired, but he had no choice as the citizens pinned their hope on him. He revealed to us that at one point he thought of quitting but God spoke to him saying he should continue pushing,” said the source.
Chamisa castigated Timba in front of the delegates over his smoking habits.
“Look at some of the people I have, Timba loves to smoke, each time he is holding a cigarette. I need God-fearing people to serve as leaders,” Chamisa thundered.
At the same meeting, NewsDay Weekender gathered that the firebrand politician took a swipe at his information team then led by Fadzayi Mahere.
“I am having problems with my information team, there is no co-ordination at all. Sometimes I realise that they have released a Press statement without me knowing, it is a circus,” he told the stakeholders.
On the eve of the polls, Chamisa wielded the axe on Mahere and appointed activist Promise Mkwananzi as party spokesperson.
“The [Marondera] meeting was like a church sermon. He told us of God as his pillar and strength in his political journey. He revealed how some of his perceived lieutenants are afraid to take Zanu PF head-on,” revealed the source.
Swimming against the tide
If the adage “it never rains, but pours” was to be personified, then befittingly it would refer to the CCC leader.
A lot of arguments can be forwarded but it is clear, for Chamisa, his pack of ducks have never bothered to swim in a row from the day he succeeded the late MDC founder Morgan Tsvangirai.
Betrayals, backstabbing and boardroom scheming among his perceived close lieutenants have been part of Chamisa’s life since he assumed the role of opposition leaders in February 2018, albeit in an alleged palace coup.
The road to the August 23 polls was all rocky for Chamisa from the first whistle as Zanu PF employed all dirty tricks that slowed down his progress in mobilising support.
It took the intervention of outside forces for the 45-year-old pastor-lawyer-cum-politician to hold his first campaign rally after police had blocked more than 20 of his planned gatherings.
His lieutenants like Job Sikhala and Jacob Ngarivhume were put behind bars shortly before the campaign period, isolating the opposition leader.
Besides the spanners thrown on his path by Zanu PF, Chamisa had to contend with the internal fissures that saw him facing revolt and disloyalty from top opposition figures.
As events continue to unfold within the CCC camp, Chamisa’s titanic ship seems to be sailing towards a huge ice block with some of his legislators already recalled from Parliament. This time, it is the self-proclaimed interim secretary-general Sengezo Tshabangu purging CCC’s elected members.
Will Chamisa weather the storm until 2028?