BULAWAYO – MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa apologised Monday on behalf of his party for fielding opportunistic candidates in the last election and vowed a “radical shift” in the 2023 polls.
Chamisa laid into councilors and legislators who were elected on his party ticket who later switched to the Zanu PF-sponsored MDC-T to preserve their jobs, fearing recalls by former leader Thokozani Khupe and subsequently Douglas Mwonzora, the new faction boss who has become a convenient cudgel for the ruling party to consolidate power through a raft of controversial constitutional changes.
The MDC Alliance was heavily criticised for imposing unpopular candidates and double fielding rival nominees as a result of dueling factions in the crucial 2018 general elections, leading to needless losses in traditionally secure opposition strongholds.
But Chamisa vowed a “radical shift in the candidate selection process [in 2023] to allow the community to lead the process of having a collective ethic community ethic. A stakeholder-driven process is actually what takes shape and what takes fruit.”
The opposition leader, who maintains he won the 2018 polls against President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said his party will seek out principled candidates and not “job seekers.”
“A lot of our MPs and councilors are people who are looking for opportunities. In fact, I’ve learnt from what has happened that instead of having people coming across as change seekers, changer makers, change agents, they are actually job seekers,” Chamisa told Cite journalist Zenzele Ndebele on his Breakfast Club, a current affairs programme.
He also criticised his party structures saying they were “very acerbic and toxic” but added that they were “an important vehicle” with a key role to play in the building of the opposition ahead of 2023, though “their role is not conclusive and definitive, it must be indicative but totally not dismissive of other key stakeholders.”
Talking tough… Nelson Chamisa sat down with journalist Zenzele Ndebele for a wide-ranging interview on Monday. (Picture Credit: @zenzele)
Seeking to curry favour with those who may have been alienated by the flawed candidates selection process, Chamisa said he was “apologizing to the people of Zimbabwe to say that we had not thought through our process of candidate selection. That’s why we have to go back to the drawing board so we don’t have party candidates but a community candidate, a collective ethic.
“A converged approach driven by the community, stakeholders and opinion makers in a community as opposed to just a political party because these processes will produce candidates or individuals who will have not have loyalties to communities and people,” he added.