There is no doubt that Nelson Chamisa is one of the most popular political leaders in the country. But it is now time that he started taking court decisions seriously because this will cost him political capital as the world is likely to view him as someone who has no respect for the law.
Indeed, there is nothing to stop him from going ahead with the congress planned for 24-26 May. He will be elected leader of the Movement for Democratic Change but whether his supporters like it or not, this will not be the party that was founded by Morgan Tsvangirai. It will be Chamisa’s own party.
As one of his main rivals, Obert Gutu, who is ironically his home boy, said: “If you’re illegitimate, you’re illegitimate! Simple! No amount of angry outbursts against Zimbabwe’s judiciary will cleanse your illegitimacy! An illegitimate ‘leader’ runs an illegitimate organization. Simple!”
Chamisa’s supporters are likely to brush this off as sour grapes, but it is a fact based on a court decision which until overturned by an appeal is true. Chamisa has thousands of followers and he rightly observed today: “If you are a leader and you have no followers, you are simply taking a walk”.
The problem could be that despite his thousands of followers, he might be the one taking a walk. It seems these thousands of followers have gotten into Chamisa’s head. He now thinks that he can get away with anything because of the thousands behind him.
But the law is the law. And Gutu has fired more warning shots. His party is now going for party properties.
“There shall be very, very serious and far-reaching implications and repercussions following upon Justice Edith Mushore’s judgment. Party assets & funds that are presently in unlawful hands shall be recovered. Absolutely no doubt about that!” Gutu warned.
While Gutu and his boss Thokozani Khupe might not have a lot of political support, the law is behind them for now. If it is decided that the party that owns all the properties Chamisa is now using is the MDC-T, which Tsvangirai led up to his death, then Chamisa could be in a lot of trouble.
One of his top lieutenants, Elias Mudzuri has been trying to tell Chamisa for some time to regularise things, call for an extraordinary congress, get elected and then proceed but Chamisa’s sympathisers viewed this as a way of trying to squeeze him out because he lost to secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora in 2014.
While this is true, this was at the bidding of Tsvangirai who wanted to cut Chamisa down to size. No one seems to be able to do that now and the level of arrogance that Chamisa now has is self-destructive.
No one will be worse off more than Chamisa if the party crumbles. All his lieutenants apart from Welshman Ncube have something to fall back on. They are all legislators.
More importantly the world seems to have already taken a back seat as far as Chamisa is concerned. His press conferences and even his speech at Tsvangirai’s memorial are hardly covered by the international media which used to follow him wherever he went.
Yes, they are all over the social media but not in the media that matters most. There are of course some that continue to support him, but this is largely because they believe anyone else is better than Mnangagwa and his Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front. But for how long can this go on?