Opposition leader in Zimbabwe, Nelson Chamisa will be 44 years on Wednesday. The politician was born 2 February, 1978. A former lawmaker, Chamisa was Minister of Information Communication and Technology. He served as a Cabinet Minister from February 2009 to July, 2013. He was the MDC Alliance’s Presidential Candidate in the disputed 2018 general election which he has consistently said he won. The election has been widely criticized as lacking in fairness and credibility. Chamisa alleged that ZANU-PF lost the election. His claims are partially backed up by the EU observers and several other observer bodies that reported the elections were not free and fair. He fought legally to reclaim what he called “our stolen mandate” but couldn’t win the legal battle. As Zimbabweans prepare for another election next year, Nelson Chamisa is leading “yellow revolution” with the formation of Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) after the infiltration of MDC Alliance by agents of the ruling ZANU-PF. Interestingly, like wildfire, the new political party is gaining grounds among Zimbabweans at home and abroad. The new political party was established on Saturday 22 January 2022 and was announced on 24 January 2022 at a press conference at Bronte Hotel in Harare, Zimbabwe.
Chamisa in this exclusive interview with Sunday Oyinloye, Publisher, Green Savannah Diplomatic Cable speaks about the “yellow revolution” the future of his country and other issues affecting Africa
Your former party, MDC Alliance did well in the last elections to an extent that you claimed to have won the Presidential election; I want to know why you decided to form a new political party called Citizens Coalition for Change?
Triple C or Citizens Coalition for Change marks a new chapter; a new beginning, a new dawn in Zimbabwe. It is a reflection of a break with the past. We are beginning a new journey; we are also laying a platform for completing the struggle for change in the emancipation project in Zimbabwe. But what is more important is that we have been a movement in the past .That movement has been riddled with all sorts of legal suits sponsored by the regime; sponsored by Mr. Mnangagwa (Zimbabwe’s president) and his political party to divide the opposition ,so we said we are not interested in names and disputes about names . Our focus now is on the future. We are building a vehicle that is not disputed. For those who read the Bible, they know the story of a dispute around wells being dug. But at Rehoboth, there was no contestation. That is where we are. We have moved forward, we are bringing citizens together; our new movement is citizens based philosophy, having citizens at the center and not having the politicians taking over and alienating citizens in terms of decision making
Have you been able to register the party?
Yes indeed, we have done that in terms of the laws of the country.
What difference will this party make; what distinguishes it from MDC Alliance?
It is going to make a difference. Like I said earlier, it is rooted in the citizens. It is about the citizens. If you look at politics in Africa, citizens have been robbed of their dignity; they have been robbed of their authority and even responsibility. The politicians have become too powerful while the citizens have become too weak. That is our fight. We want to make sure that one day, you will have a situation where the citizen is very powerful and the politician is very weak and subject to the control, dictates and command of the citizens. That is our dream and our ideal. But more importantly, our fight is about transformation. We think we will do a better job with the kind of mobilization by citizens who understand what the issues are. It is a coalition of citizens because we are having citizens coming together to fight for change. It’s no longer a party affair; yes it’s a political party, but it is no longer one party , now all citizens coming together to chart a way forward.
What then happens to the former party, MDC Alliance?
They say let the dead bury their own dead, unfortunately I am not yet dead , so I don’t know what is going to happen around the burial of MDC Alliance, but it is our past and history; it is not the future. The future is what we are charting now; Citizens Coalition for Change which has engulfed cities and villages, yellow everywhere. People are excited; people are electric, the mood is great, it’s yellow everywhere. The nation has turned yellow. The yellow revolution is unstoppable, people are committed, people want change, they want to see victory, people are hopeful. The yellow revolution will not only lead to the emancipation of Zimbabwe, but the whole of Africa. People will realize their own sovereignty and sanctity
What lessons can the opposition in Zimbabwe learn from last year’s election in Zambia?
There are a number of lessons to learn, but I will just stick to four. Number one lesson; it’s important to have institutions that are strong, institutions that are independent and professional. If you don’t have an independent electoral commission, you will see such commission throwing away the wish of the people. That is a lesson from Zambia. The institutions of the state are very independent and professional and they allowed for power transfer. Number two; the participation of the citizens was impressive especially the young people. Young people in Africa must participle in political process and determine their destiny. Lesson number three is this. If you are in the opposition, you have to be consistent President Hichilema was in the opposition and ran for elections many times and even when he was being cheated he was persistent until his time came. Nobody misses their moment. Africa can do it; Zambia has demonstrated that democracy is workable and could flourish. The challenge of the continent is that those who are in office want to terrorize those who are out of office and those who are out of office want to topple those who are in office, so there has to be that understanding that we have a stake in the development of our countries and that there is no reason for vindictiveness. That is how to build a great African society. Those are the lessons from Zambia.
Are you optimistic that your party will form the next government?
It is not a question of optimism; it is factual that we will make it. I am not theorizing I am not a philosopher, I am not making an assumption; we are the next government in Zimbabwe. The people know it; they are with us. Zimbabweans are in it, and our God is in it.
What is the future of your country?
The future is very bright and exciting and very promising. All we need to do is to have a chance to register citizens to vote and we have been calling on citizens to register with us. We are doing massive education and mobilization of the citizens for them to register and participate in the next election. It is good to be active in politics. It makes a difference and that continues to be our clarion call to the citizens, but the future of our country is bright. We have everything except leadership and the leadership is what we seek to fix. Once we fix the leadership question, I can tell you that we will be the answer not just to ourselves but to the world.
Millions of your people live outside the country, what are you doing to sensitize them?
We are doing three things. Number one, we are making sure that those in diaspora are given the rights and responsibility to vote. Right now, they can’t vote. That right is not there, so we are calling for electoral reforms so that those in the diaspora are able to vote. Diasporas have contributed so much to the development of our country; therefore they should be given the right to vote. Number two; we are also putting in place mechanisms that they are able to encourage people back home to register as we mobilise for voters’ participation efforts. Thirdly, because CCC is a citizen’s initiative, we have Diaspora for Change, so those in diaspora are organizing chapters in different countries to mobilize for change back home; therefore they are essential component of the change efforts.
There is this ugly development of coup in West Africa, what is your reaction to this?
We must silence the gun, we must also make sure that going forward, the gun should protect. We cannot have a situation whereby the bullet is more powerful than the ballot. We cannot have a situation whereby we have barracks being sources of power rather than people determining their fate through elections. The scourge of coups is a dangerous trend that we are seeing. It does not give birth to stability, it affects economic stability, affects our democracy and even the stability of Africa. Therefore, we need to come together and put serious measures in place to make sure that leaders also govern responsibly and accountably. If they don’t we should have early warning mechanism to check them through intervention at leadership level to assist countries to remain stable and to caution leaders to remain on the path of serving the people and secondly to also make sure that in the event that you have a coup, we are able to rescue those leaders who are put under siege. If the civilian authority is under treat, there can never be stability in the nations of Africa. The institutions must be matured, so that there is a clear separation of power. Institutions must be there to safeguard the will of the people and the sovereignty of the people of Africa.