HARARE – MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa seems to be making inroads in what used to be Zanu PF strongholds where thousands of people are teeming to attend his rallies.
Rural areas have for long been considered to be Zanu PF stronghold but due to the infighting in the ruling party and the widening of democratic space following former president Robert Mugabe’s ouster last November, the opposition is slowly gaining a foothold in these areas.
MDC chairperson Morgen Komichi told the Daily News yesterday that they were pleasantly surprised by the huge turnout of people at Chamisa’s rallies, attributing this to the fact that the rural folk were no longer being intimidated.
“We are having no problems at all; we have never experienced such things as is happening now. The numbers that we are addressing are tremendous. The reason why people are attending is that people are now ready for change, and of course there are few cases of intimidation,” said Komichi.
“People in rural areas are now determined to see things change. A lot of people are now coming to the rallies. The leadership of Chamisa confers to people hope after suffering for so long they can feel that change is close by,” he added. Chamisa took over the MDC leadership after the death of the party’s founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai.
The former trade unionist died on February 14.
While Chamisa’s leadership is being challenged, the 40-year-old democrat has changed the political landscape.
Chamisa recently boasted that he still has the energy to have as many rallies a day as possible, saying that 75-year-old President Emmerson Mnangagwa cannot match his stamina.
“As I traverse the country, I see great hope and deep passion in the eyes of the people, the young and old, men and women, even boys and girls whose future is at stake in this election. We are a nation of kind and generous people with great courage, big hearts, resilience and creativity. These qualities have seen us through extremely tough times and we bank on them once again to see us through at this historic moment,” he said.
“There can be no doubt that we stand at an important juncture in the history of our country. We can choose to be progressive, taking a path that is guided by inter-generational consensus or to look backwards and continue with the old politics and old economics that have left the nation broken, divided, impoverished and desperate beyond measure. The choice is ours and I know we will choose the correct path,” said Chamisa.
Under Mugabe’s rule, supporters of opposition parties often complained of harassment by their Zanu PF counterparts.
To his credit, Mnangagwa has been preaching peace, love and tolerance — a message that has seemingly permeated to his supporters.