Zimbabwe’s leading opposition figure, Nelson Chamisa, on Sunday drew thousands of cheering supporters to his first political rally since forming a new party a few weeks ago as the country gears up for elections that have been postponed due to COVID-19
Nelson Chamisa formed the Citizens Coalition for Change party in January, breaking away from the country’s longtime opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change, or MDC.
The courts then ruled that Chamisa was not the legitimate leader of the MDC, a move that handed control of the party to close rivals to Mnangagwa. Chamisa was no longer the leader of the MDC deputies and was unable to use party headquarters or access state funding for the party.
“They took everything from me but I don’t care,” Chamisa said on Sunday of the court’s decision.
“We’re starting over. We’re starting from scratch. It’s a whole new party,” he told his cheering supporters. Many wore the new party’s yellow t-shirts and hats, abandoning the red color associated with the MDC.
Politically unstable Zimbabwe is due to hold elections to fill more than 130 vacant seats in parliament and council on March 26. The elections are widely seen as a test for next year’s general election.
While Chamisa’s party is new, the problems that prevented the opposition from taking power in Zimbabwe remain. These include arrests, detentions, beatings, harassment and alleged partisan security forces acting in support of the ruling party.
Chamisa also repeated on Sunday accusations that the country’s election management body was planning to rig the upcoming elections as it has done in the past. The organization denies the allegations.