MDC-T and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa had the opportunity to be grilled by Stephen Sucker — traditionally known to take no prisoners — on BBC Hardtalk and his responses have drawn divergent views from a cross section of Zimbabweans, who will be casting their vote in the next few months.
Admittedly, apart from this particular interview, the yardstick that has been used to measure Chamisa had not even been used for other political leaders.
These include Zanu PF presidential candidate President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who has been promising pies in the air since taking over leadership of the governing party and the country in November last year.
Such kinds of grilling are good as they can help a young emerging leader like Chamisa and his handlers to up their game and learn from their mistakes as they move on.
Chamisa will go head-to-head with Mnangagwa in the election and other observers have argued that it would be unfair to compare the two leaders because Mnangagwa has more experience than his rival.
While Sucker was largely condescending — something he has been accused of whenever dealing with African players — to his credit, Chamisa remained calm throughout the interview.
Understandably, given the name of the programme, this can never be a stroll in the park and if Chamisa’s advisers could take advice, they would use such scenarios to prepare him for such future engagements as well as how to up his game.
Chamisa has been accused of parroting policies that are already part of the Zanu PF manifesto yet the critical thing is whether or not the governing party is implementing those policies.
It is critical to state that Zanu PF has been in power for nearly 40 years and it is strange that they make promises of issues which are already its obligations and should have been solved in all those years in power.
Wisdom says when you fail, make way for others to try and the MDC-T has an opportunity to correct all those, should they win the elections.
We believe constructive criticism is important to build good leaders. However, it is important that the criticism is balanced, fair and meant to allow those criticised to learn from their past mistakes.
Suffice to say no-one has monopoly on power every Zimbabwean has a right to aspire for higher office and to contest for any position regardless of their political party affiliation.
Yet, Chamisa must pause and consider all the criticism he’s getting in order to improve, remain resolute and not stagger at this critical moment.