Zimbabwe's main opposition party, the MDC, all but declared its leader Nelson Chamisa the country’s “president” on Saturday, insisting that the youthful politician won the popular vote at the July 30 polls.
Addressing thousands of party supporters at the MDC’s 19th anniversary celebrations at Gwanzura Stadium in Harare, MDC vice president Morgen Komichi proclaimed that his boss “has been duly bestowed as the president of Zimbabwe”.
“We voted on July 30 and made our choice and we all know that leaders come from God and now that you have come here and we all agree that our vote was stolen, our leader…Chamisa has been duly bestowed as the president of Zimbabwe,” he said, as he invited the 40-year-old politician to the podium to light up what he termed the “democracy flame”, which resembled the country’s independence flame.
Chamisa obliged and duly lit the flame to a thunderous applause from the crowd, shouting: “President of the republic and commander-in-chief of the defence forces!”
The ceremony was, however, without rites conducted when a president is sworn in, probably to avoid the long arm of the law.
In terms of the country’s laws, a president is sworn in by the chief justice and takes the oath of office while holding the Bible in one hand.
Last month, government warned Chamisa that it would arrest him if he proceeded to swear himself in as president.
The MDC, founded in 1999, had long planned to “inaugurate” Chamisa as “president” even though the Constitutional Court had upheld President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s narrow victory.
Mnangagwa, won the presidential race with 50,6 percent of the vote — just enough to meet the 50 percent plus one vote threshold needed to avoid a run-off.
Chamisa trailed him with 44,3 percent of the vote.
Yesterday, government rubbished Chamisa’s declaration as “president”, describing it as child’s play.
“We used to do that when we were growing up — giving each other roles as fathers and mothers, but we would come to our senses and realise that it was only playing,” said deputy minister of Information Energy Mutodi.
The former musician said it was sad that Chamisa was still in denial mode after losing the elections.
“He is seeking relevance, the country has moved forward but he is in denial that he lost elections and it’s unfortunate,” he said.
Before addressing the gathering in Highfield Saturday, Chamisa sang a Christian hymn before declaring that he was ready to govern, saying his party has solutions to the country’s problems.
He said contrary to claims by Mnangagwa that he was itching for a government of national unity, he instead was determined to take the Zanu PF leader head-on in his quest to reclaim “our stolen victory”.
“I heard Mnangagwa saying he was not ready for government of national unity but he is forgetting that I have not called for one because it is not necessary. What I want is the presidency which I was given by the people,” Chamisa said.
“How is it possible that I would want to work with a loser? I want the presidency that the people who voted gave me and I am coming for you in broad daylight. I will get what is rightfully mine before the end of this year,” he declared, adding at 19 the MDC was now a grown-up party ready to govern.