MDC-T leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday challenged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to a presidential debate, claiming he would expose the President’s lack of appreciation for critical issues.
Addressing MDC-T aspiring local government and parliamentary candidates at the party headquarters in Harare, Chamisa said Mnangagwa had no chance against him on a debate platform and would have to seek back-up from his deputy, Kembo Mohadi.
“I am saying Mnangagwa, let’s go for a debate on issues,” he said, claiming he was way ahead of his competition.
“I do not want Mnangagwa on his own because he is incapable. I want him to be helped by Mohadi and if that fails, maybe (Buhera South legislator Joseph) Chinotimba can help.”
A number of African nations have introduced live TV debates for presidential candidates, among them Rwanda, Kenya, Liberia and the unrecognised nation of Somaliland.
The late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai on several occasions challenged Mnangagwa’s predecessor, Robert Mugabe for a television debate, but the offer was never taken.
Zanu PF spokesman Simon Khaya Moyo was unavailable to comment on the challenge, with an aide who answered his mobile phone saying he was in a meeting with Mnangagwa.
Chamisa urged aspiring party candidates to be non-violent during elections. The party approved a 20% quota for youth candidates.
Chamisa also accused the ruling party of engineering violence at MDC-T events to tarnish the opposition party’s image.
He accused the ruling Zanu PF of trying to cause disturbances in MDC-T so that the party would be labelled violent.
This comes after successive ugly scenes of violence pitting Chamisa’s supporters against vice-president Thokozani Khupe’s.
The violence, threatening to split the party, has created a rift between Chamisa and party leaders mainly from Matabeleland.
“I am worried as your leader, as a leader of the party of excellence, that there are tendencies of Zanu PF trying to creep into our midst.
“It is not our culture. MDC-T is populated by democrats, doves and peace ambassadors,” Chamisa said, chronicling the number of attack on party supporters since its formation.
“I am surprised when Zanu PF tries to present itself as holier than thou. We know what they are doing.
“We have security reports. They are planting their people, some come wearing MDC-T T-shirts, while others try to influence our members to engage in violence.
“They are agents provocateurs for the purpose of labelling our party a violent one.”
He called for peace and discipline in the party.
“We celebrate an osmosis of ideas. Let ideas move from a region of higher concentration to a region of lower concentration, we are in a democratic discourse, not to interact with stones when you differ with them.
“We don’t chose the migration of reasoning of the brain to that of muscle each time you are defeated on a debate.
“We don’t want that,” Chamisa said.
He said people were excited about his candidature and investors were waiting to do business with Zimbabwe.
Chamisa said, unlike Zanu PF, the opposition party wanted young people to be uplifted and empowered.
“We are different from Zanu PF, which persecutes young people, but in MDC, we elevate young people.
“In Zanu PF, they do a generational genocide like what they did to G40, but in MDC, we have a succession of generations. We are not a one generational movement,” he said.
Turning to the aspiring candidates, Chamisa said he would fight corruption head-on and would not hesitate to fire leaders, particularly councillors, accused of fraud and graft.
He said it was regrettable that there were some elements who were trying to use positions to dip their fingers into public funds.