Zimbabwe News

Nelson Chamisa rejects protests, calls for peaceful resolution of electoral disputes

Former Citizens’ Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has expressed his commitment to seeking peaceful solutions to address the political differences arising from the contested August 2023 general elections.

Chamisa has refused to accept the outcome of the 2023 presidential race, saying the election was rigged in favour of the incumbent, President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

Since he resigned from CCC in January this year, Chamisa has kept a low profile, leaving his supporters guessing about his next political move.

In his first public statement since his resignation, seen by NewsDay, Chamisa ruled out violence in settling political disputes, saying Zimbabwe was “too beautiful and precious” to be destroyed by violence. He said:

Fellow citizens, may I hasten to say, that following statutory procedures and peaceful means to resolve your issues is not a manifestation of weakness or that we are devoid of other ideas and means.

It is our strict commitment to finding each other and amicably resolving our points of conflict, disjuncture and disagreement.

We have committed to a peaceful resolution of disputes and intend to exhaust all available peaceful remedies.

As you are all aware, millions of you agree with this approach. Zimbabwe is too beautiful and precious to be destroyed by the flames of political disputes under our watch. Peace is fragile. Peace is sacrosanct. And the breakdown of peace knows no winner.

Chamisa said there was a need to resolve the August 2023 electoral dispute before the next general elections scheduled for 2028. He said:

Our beautiful country can never progress on the back of disunity and successive disputed national processes including contested elections.

We are acutely aware of the urgency of this matter and more importantly that there can never be any talk of 2028 or a viable and stable future for this country without resolving August 2023, the broken past and disputed politics.

It remains our hope and, indeed, your hope that all our concerns will be addressed with urgency and seriousness. I, therefore, urge you to stay the course, hold the fort, and remain vigilant.

Chamisa revealed that he was in contact with Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders to intervene and “resolve the governance crisis” in Zimbabwe. He said:

Meanwhile, we have noted the various meetings the leadership of SADC has held, including the latest Extraordinary Summit of the Organ Troika on the 23rd of March 2024 in Lusaka, Zambia. Therefore, we have advisedly been patiently waiting on our request.

On the 29th of April, however, since considerable time has passed, yet we had sought to resolve this issue much earlier, we delivered our follow-up to SADC for which we await a response to determine a clear path forward to resolve the governance crisis.

Our request to SADC was and remains very simple, that, as the regional body which Zimbabwe has signed up for membership and vested some authority in the supranational interstate organisation, we require their facilitation to resolve the issues around the irregular and disputed elections peacefully.

However, political commentator and Southern Africa programme head for the Institute for Security Studies Piers Pigou, told NewsDay that an elitist clique within ZANU PF would not settle for dialogue. He said:

I don’t think he [Mnangagwa] would settle for dialogue. There is no political need to make this move (dialogue), as far as ZANU PF is concerned, they have won in the elections and they don’t agree with key aspects of reforms.

There is a lot of positive thinking that exists within the ruling party. Still, the individuals do not have the power to ensure that a policy commitment is made, or that there is accountability. That power lies in an elitist clique within ZANU PF.

Several election observer reports on Zimbabwe’s 2023 harmonized elections concluded that the overall electoral process did not meet regional standards.

The Carter Center Report said the election took place in a restricted political environment with an unlevel playing field, limiting candidates’ ability to compete on equal terms.

It also noted that critical election information, such as the final voters’ roll and polling station lists, was not readily available to stakeholders, and extensive voting delays due to ballot shortages likely affected voter turnout.

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