OPPOSITION Movement for Democratic Change Alliance presidential candidate Advocate Nelson Chamisa comes across as a very energetic, exuberant and lively character given to bombastic pronouncements some of which have landed him in hot water.
There is nothing wrong with regaling audiences with promises of a better life but the youthful MDC-T leader has taken electioneering to another level with his fanciful, some might say, outlandish pie in the sky pledges to bemused voters.
It appears excitement gets the better of Adv Chamisa whenever he stands in front of thousands of people to an extent that he feels obliged to wax lyrical about delivering the impossible. Villagers in Murehwa were the first to be told that they will fly their produce to Mbare Musika in Harare from an airport that would be built in the heart of the rural heartland of kwa Bhora — never mind the logistical nightmare or the total lack of business sense such a move entailed.
Spaghetti roads and bullet trains would transverse the length and breadth of this country in a short space of time, according to the MDC-T president. All this would be funded with $15 billion worth of funding that the United States government under President Donald Trump would unlock as a soon as Adv Chamisa took the reins of power. While in Matabeleland, Adv Chamisa visited the Joshua Nkomo Museum in Matsheumhlophe suburb and emerged to claim that the late Father Zimbabwe’s family had given him the old man’s intonga — a sign that they were effectively endorsing him as the country’s next leader.
Of course, this was not true and the Nkomo family was livid to the extent that they were forced to issue a statement recanting Adv Chamisa’s claims given the ramifications of passing intonga to a total stranger. Clearly, the MDC-T leader — just like his predecessor the late Mr Morgan Tsvangirai — requires massive hand-holding to curb his penchant for putting his foot in the mouth. His advisors, among whom are experienced lawyers, need to rein him in to avert a situation where he has to continuously explain himself out of tricky situations.
His latest trip to the United Kingdom should have been a learning curve given its disastrous outcome. From the outset, Adv Chamisa lurched from calamity to calamity right from the rally in Bedford where he offered to marry off his 18-year-old sister to President Mnangagwa if he lost the forthcoming election.
Gender activists were scathing in their condemnation of the sexist and misogynistic utterances, forcing Adv Chamisa to apologise for his lack of foresight and insensitivity.
The UK trip also brought him face to face with Mr Stephen Sackur — that swashbuckling BBC Hardtalk presenter famed for taking no prisoners on his shows. To say the youthful politician was taken to the cleaners would be an understatement because he was totally bamboozled by the interview which clearly exposed his litany of falsehoods to the world. Mr Sackur — who appeared to have meticulously done his homework — tore into Adv Chamisa’s fanciful promises and exposed his lies about meeting President Trump and the promises of a $15 billion rescue package. Zimbabwean opposition politicians are used to being handled with kid gloves by a sympathetic Western media and Adv Chamisa thought the script remained the same much to his shock.
Totally out of depth, he found himself at the receiving end of a stinging rebuke from his interviewer, who clearly was not impressed by the amount of drivel spewing from his interviewee’s mouth. Words such as “absolute nonsense”, “silly” and “fantasies” were bandied about much to the irritation of Adv Chamisa and his followers.
In a candid assessment of the Hardtalk performance, former Education Minister Senator David Coltart, admitted Adv Chamisa’s shortcomings, saying the MDC-T president had misfired and made wrong pronouncements. In a statement issued over the weekend, Sen Coltart attributed Adv Chamisa’s naiveté to lack of exposure. “It is important to remember that Nelson Chamisa has known nothing else other than the crazy political environment which has existed in this country since he entered politics in September 1999,” he said.
“Of course Nelson Chamisa has faults. All of us do. Of course he has made mistakes in some of his pronouncements — all of us have done so in our own political careers. None of us is perfect — but at this moment in our history we cannot let perfection be the enemy of the good”.
Sen Coltart said Adv Chamisa had taken some lessons from his conduct on Hardtalk. “No doubt he has learned from the experience and he is a quick learner. Having done Hardtalk twice myself I know how demanding it is and I respect that he was prepared to go into the firing line,” he said.
We also hope Adv Chamisa learnt some valuable lessons from the barracking he received on Hardtalk and that going forward, he will refrain from making fanciful promises at rallies and stick to serious policy issues and ideology — a feat that appears too heavy for him at the moment.