As the clock ticks towards next month’s elections, main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has sensationally claimed that rivals were pulling everything out of their bags of tricks to deny his MDC Alliance victory at the forthcoming polls, including attempts on his life.
The MDC Alliance presidential candidate made the claims while addressing party supporters in the resort town of Victoria Falls at the weekend.
Chamisa claimed to have gathered intelligence to the effect that President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has put together a team of security agents to snoop on him ahead of the crunch elections slated for July 30 and could not rule out that their brief included taking his life.
“I hear they have set up teams that are following me but they won’t succeed in their mission because I have an angelic ark that is around me, so these earthly attempts will fail even if they want to kill me,” said the 40-year-old presidential hopeful.
The former ICT minister said he will not be afraid to travel around the country on his own, adding that even if he becomes president of the republic he will surround himself with a few bodyguards.
“The president should not be guarded by soldiers at all; so I will not be crowded by soldiers because a leader must be accessible to the people — not to move around with soldiers and a huge motorcade,” said Chamisa.
“The motorcade must be reasonably small with the leader guarded by a few people who travel with him like what other leaders in the region do such as (Ian) Khama of Botswana and the late (Nelson) Mandela (of South Africa). Why do people need such motorcades as if they will take that into their graves?” he asked.
Mnangagwa’s administration dismissed his claims yesterday, saying Chamisa’s assertions were unfounded and out of step with Mnangagwa’s repeated calls for free and fair elections.
“The fears being expressed are unfounded especially when one considers the fact that the president has opened up political space and Chamisa is having a free rein, campaigning anywhere, anytime,” Home Affairs minister Obert Mpofu told the Daily News yesterday.
“There is really no reason why we should be asking security services to pry on opposition parties and their leaders because they are not a national security threat,” he added.
Despite Mpofu pouring cold water on Chamisa’s claims, the MDC Alliance leader’s spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda, insisted yesterday that his boss’ fears were genuine.
“It is irresponsible to think that the fears are not genuine given that MDC leaders including the (party’s) president have been harmed before by the State hence there cannot be delusion over the possibility of being harmed. The fears are existential; there is no second guessing so we care about his security on account of precedence so anything is possible ,” Sibanda said.
Since the formation of the MDC in 1999, its leader, including the party’s late founding president, Morgan Tsvangirai, have always complained that State security agents, particularly from the Central Intelligence Organisation, routinely target them.
Tsvangirai and Chamisa were among opposition leaders who were physically assaulted by suspected State security agents at the behest of kingpins in former president Robert Mugabe’s regime.
While Tsvangirai was assaulted by police in 2007 after a prayer meeting in Harare, Chamisa was left for dead after suspected State security agents pounced on him at the Robert Mugabe International Airport — then the Harare International Airport — as he prepared to leave for Belgium.
Mugabe’s regime was also notorious for fabricating criminal allegations against key members of the opposition to distract them from campaigning.
Last year, there were report about government agents prying into the movements of Tsvangirai’s wife, Elizabeth, in a bid to extract dirt they could use to side track her husband’s campaign.
Of particular interests to spy agents was Elizabeth’s trip to Sydney, Australia. It was suspected at the time that Elizabeth could have abandoned Tsvangirai who was receiving treatment in South Africa and that the mother of two was still seeing one of her ex-husbands.
Tsvangirai wed Elizabeth (nee Macheka) in September 2012.
Before her marriage to the former prime minister, Elizabeth bore two daughters from her previous marriages — Rumbidzaishe Sharon Guma and Tashinga Ngirazi.