Mugove Tafirenyika 12 April 2018
HARARE – The Oxford Union, the most prestigious student debating
organisation in the United Kingdom whose membership is drawn primarily
from the University of Oxford, will be hosting MDC Alliance presidential
candidate Nelson Chamisa on May 7 to debate Zimbabwe’s ongoing political
Chamisa joins countless British prime ministers, three US presidents and
top political figures from the Dalai Lama to Malcolm X on the prestigious
195-year-old debating society’s archival guest list.
In an e-mailed invitation to Chamisa from Brendan McGrath, assistant to
Oxford Union president Gui Cavalcanti, the union described the youthful
MDC Alliance presidential aspirant as “radical and optimistic whose
personality and national vision needed to be directed to a global
“In taking advantage of Zimbabwe’s current transitions… Chamisa has
crafted himself into a radically optimistic, charismatic leader to
challenge the sedentary pessimism which has prevailed in the country for
so long,” McGrath said.
“A visit to the Oxford Union would capitalise on this image, directing his
personality and national vision to a global audience, one tuned into
Zimbabwe and eager to have their opinions shaped. It would be an honour to
Commenting on the invite to address the debating society at the famous
university located about 70km north of London, Chamisa’s spokesperson Luke
Tamborinyoka said the MDC was humbled by the gesture.
“We are going to take advantage of the invitation to this prestigious
speaking platform to have the president articulate his policy direction.
It is significant in that it tells that the whole world has been charmed
by the Chamisa moment,” Tamborinyoka said.
Founded in 1823, the Oxford Union is a venerable platform for debate at
the university. And debating at the Oxford Union takes two forms –
competitive debating and chamber debating.
Chamisa will take part in the chamber debating which include debates known
as Public Business Meetings with invited guest speakers for which the
Union is best known.
This tends to be less formal in format, even if more formal in tone
requiring clarification, than competitive debates, and the manner of
delivery is closer to public speaking, with audience engagement far more
On the other hand, competitive debating is the preserve of a minority of
members of the Union.
The Union’s best debaters compete internationally against other top
debating societies, and the Oxford Union regularly fields one of the most
successful teams at the World Universities Debating Championships and the
European Universities Debating Championships.