LAST week, Advocate Nelson Chamisa unveiled the Citizens Coalition for Change as the new name of the people’s movement. Our old name had been pilfered and Zanunised by the political pirates of our time. The old brand had equally become toxic and had been bastardised by the dictatorship and its paid surrogates.
The President Emmerson Mnangagwa regime has perfected and redefined the art of stealing. It has gone one better than simply stealing State funds and the country’s vast mineral wealth. It has gone further than simply stealing the future of our children and the dignity of the country’s citizenry. It is now stealing brands and name-tags.
It must, however, be unequivocally stated from the outset that while the regime can pilfer our name, it can never steal our political fortunes and our destiny. Chamisa’s mammoth political success and massive followership in the countryside can never and will never be copied and pasted on a blank political template.
The pain and scars of the past
True, losing your past is a painful enterprise. It has not been easy to break away from our history. As president Chamisa said earlier in the week, divorce is painful and so too has been our detachment from the MDC brand — a brand we had stoically, selflessly and determinedly built over the years.
Sometimes when a brand has been corroded by unbridled treachery and systemic infiltration, there is no option but to let go, regardless of how painful the process of disengagement could be.
On Monday last week, we introduced a new brand on the political market. Ever since that ominous day when the naive Morgan Komichi unwittingly and probably prematurely let the cat out of the bag by saying that the MDC-T had become the MDC Alliance and would contest future elections under that name, it became clear that he was simply the mouthpiece of the regime. We knew this was an ominous warning from a piranha regime that has captured all institutions including the Judiciary.
The solution could only be political and not legal. Since then, a new identity was always coming and it was only a matter of time and timing. When dealing with an entrenched, murderous and securocratic regime such as ours, timing is of the essence. This explains the last minute, surprise announcement of the new name which shook even the impervious walls of Hades.
Behold the new. But even as we chart a new direction, our record and history in the democratic struggle remains impeccable, it can’t be nicked. The regime should know that it can steal our name but it cannot steal or pickpocket our history and our democratic credentials.
The pain and scar of losing the past
Earlier in the week, Chamisa spoke about the pain of divorce. My colleague and fomer workmate Alex Magaisa wrote about the sunk-cost fallacy and what he referred to as our reluctance to rebrand because of the huge investment we have individually and collectively made in the MDC brand over the years.
Indeed, over time we have sunk huge investments in the MDC brand. That investment was material, monetary, economic and psychological. In such situations, it is always difficult to let go. But if it were a marriage, when the other partner becomes a serial philanderer and an unrepentant adulterer, there is no option but to let go.
In our case, our colleagues had brought Zanu PF on the matrimonial political bed, receiving trinkets and other treasures to sell out the people’s struggle.
When you have a supposedly MDC headquarters being guarded by the police and the army, then you will know that it’s definitely not the brand in which Morgan Tsvangirai and most of us invested so much and lost so much. At that point, you then say to yourself perhaps it is time to let go. And that is exactly what we have done.
I have been looking at my wardrobe. The number of branded political apparel that has suddenly become obsolete is shockingly huge. It explains the delay in letting go, until it has inevitably become necessary to do so, as has now happened.
For all her excoriation, my mortal human calculus has always perfectly understood Lot’s wife (Genesis 19 wese 26).
On the eve of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, she turned and looked back, in spite of God’s instruction not to do so. But at a personal level, I have always understood Lot’s wife from the position of my human mortality.
Imagine you have lived in a city all your life. One day, that city is about to be destroyed. All your friends, relatives, aunts and uncles are in that city.
Then a voice, whatever its immortality, tells you to leave and not to turn back. A human being is a historical being and any normal being would have had a strong inclination to look back, as Lot’s wife did.
But of course, human patience has a limit. There is a point where even the mortal being’s calculus exhorts them to move on and leave the carnage behind them.
We have taken that bold decision to leave the battered MDC brand that has gone ablaze in the huge flames of political treachery.
Citizens Coalition for Change: The key tenets
Centralising the citizen
Our new political ethos places the citizen at the centre of all decisions and the national discourse. For Zanu PF, the political elite and their embedded acolytes are at the feeding trough while the rest of the country is at the periphery of all political considerations and transactions. The new political direction we have taken seeks to reverse that by placing the citizen at the centre of the country’s political matrix.
In short, the citizen is the new currency of our politics.
At the centre of all our actions and discourse, the citizen is the master. The citizen’s health, education, general welfare, dignity and the future of their children, are all important matters that concern us as a leadership and as a movement.
Where the citizen is the master, you don’t kill them, you don’t abduct them, you don’t brutalise them, you don’t steal from them, you don’t take away their rights and dignity and you don’t underpay them as civil servants working for your government.
The citizen is our cardinal. The citizen’s concerns are our key political business. The citizens have since converged and they have now intensely coalesced around an avowed quest to transform their country.
The citizens are the fulcrum of our politics and in 2023, they are certainly going to make a very significant statement that will redefine the politics of this country.
Unity in diversity
Yet another key tenet of the new direction we have taken is that all citizens regardless of their diversity remain a key factor in our politics.
Ours is a coalition of citizens and not political party members. Our citizen movement is bigger than political party labels.
The Zimbabwean citizens, whatever their creed, gender, trade, tribe or political affiliation are at the epicentre of our politics and equally welcome to play their part in winning Zimbabwe for change in 2023.
The citizens are bigger than political parties and that is why community and citizen input is now a key and integral part of all our processes, including candidate selection during elections.
The community of citizens beyond the political party is a higher and nobler cardinal. The strictures of political party membership are too narrow and too inadequate to address the key challenges of modern politics. The citizens and the broader community — beyond the parochial definition of party membership — are not easily corruptible. They are not purchasable. Therein lies the sanctity of citizen-driven politics.
Citizens Coalition for Change is a homogenous entity of ordinary people — an amalgamation of the ethos, hopes and aspirations of ordinary Zimbabweans who have been violated, battered and repressed but whose undying quest is to achieve the best for their country and future generations.
The citizen is not necessarily a political party member but an ordinary person who shares the vision of a new great Zimbabwe with jobs, affordable education and healthcare; a country where individual and collective rights and dignity are not only protected but upheld.
Our citizen movement will mean that the 2023 election will pit Mnangagwa and Zanu PF against the ordinary citizens and their enduring but unfulfilled aspirations. In the next watershed election, it will be Mnangagwa versus the people; Mnangagwa versus the citizens.
We are creating a citizen movement against this callous, uncaring regime. Ours is a huge movement of a mobilised citizenry against the regime.
Similarly, there will be no political parochialism against this regime. There will be unity in the diversity of the country’s people.
Citizens Coalition for Change encapsulates a huge movement in which the diverse ordinary citizens’ concerns will be robustly championed and articulated.
The whole aim is to ensure that the 2023 plebiscite ushers in a new administration that brings back to the centre the whims and caprices of the ordinary citizen.
The citizen as a construct beyond the political party
The point needs to be restated that the citizen movement goes beyond a political party. It is a far much higher cardinal that appeals to the general citizenry beyond a political party card.
As the Holy Book says: ” There is neither Jew nor Greek; slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3 verse 28).
Similarly, there is no longer any political party distinction. The citizens as a united, collective entity have coalesced to win Zimbabwe for change.
Name-change as a precondition for blessings: The Biblical experience
Zimbabwe is a God-fearing nation and ours is an equally God-fearing movement led by a people’s president who is a man of God. Chamisa’s catch phrase has always been that destiny is predetermined by God and no mortal being can alter or change what the Lord has cast in stone.
The biblical experience shows that on the eve of blessings, God has always exhorted a name-change.
In a recent meeting, the people’s president gave the example of Saul who became Paul and a Jacob who became Israel before they were showered with blessings and unique talents. In the Bible, name-change has often been a precondition for one to be saved and to receive mammoth blessings.
For me, the seminal example of the name-change experience was when God ordered Abram to change his name to Abraham and his wife to change her name from Sarai to Sarah. That was God’s precondition for him to bless Abraham by multiplying him exceedingly and blessing his descendants while a renamed Sarah, almost hitting 100 years of age, was later blessed with her only son, Isaac after her name-change.
As we rename and rebrand; as we go yellow and gold on the eve of a crucial ejection, God is about to shower the despondent people of this country with mammoth blessings.
By claiming he is the MDC Alliance president Douglas Mwonzora thought he could steal Chamisa’s political blessing. Like the Biblical Jacob (Genesis 35 verse 15) who claimed he was Esau in order to steal his brother’s blessings, Mwonzora thought he could try his luck at name-nicking in the hope that his political fortunes would be enhanced. We wish him well in his devilish endeavour.
The new has come and the new is exciting. We are certainly on the eve of a huge seismic shift of the country’s political terrain.
We have sought to construct a huge citizen movement to complete the democratisation project in this country.
Zimbabweans have waited too long for this.
We have sought to bring back the citizen to the centre of political decisions and the political discourse in the country.
Fellow Zimbabweans, the future is yellow. The future is gold. And the future is bold.
- Luke Tamborinyoka is the deputy secretary for presidential affairs in the Citizens Coalition for Change . You can interact with him on his Facebook page or on the twitter handle @ luke_tambo. He writes here in his personal capacity.