Zimbabwe: Who’s who in Nelson Chamisa’s inner circle 

By Farai Shawn Matiashe

Posted on Monday, 25 April 2022 15:15

Unlike Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa who surrounds himself with his clansmen from his older generation, particularly liberation war veterans, Nelson Chamisa is seen as someone close to the youth in the country. Find out more in this who's who of Chamisa’s network.

After ascending to power in early 2018, following the death of leader Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance (MDC-A), Chamisa lost the disputed 2018 general elections by a margin.

The youthful and charismatic leader was later forced to abandon the MDC Alliance brand and form a new party, the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC),  because of the rival MDC-Tsvangirai led by Douglas Mwonzora which was sponsored by Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF party to destabilise the main opposition party.

Chamisa’s new party shocked Zanu PF after winning the majority of the seats in the recent local elections and he is set to challenge Mnangagwa in the 2023 general polls which are close by.

This is a constitutional law expert who became popular in 2018 after representing Chamisa’s challenge to the 2018 election results at the Constitutional Court in Harare.

Many of Zimbabwe’s youths were fascinated by Mpofu’s arguments during the proceedings that were broadcasted for the first time on television. Chief Justice Luke Malaba later declared Mnangagwa the winner of the disputed general polls.

Since then, Mpofu has stood by Chamisa and advises him on legal matters.

Mpofu, who hails from Kadoma, had also represented former MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai in 2012 when Tsvangirai was seeking the annulment of Mugabe’s alleged unilateral appointment of 10 provincial governors in October 2011 of which he argued intentionally violated the Constitution.

In May 2021, Mpofu won a case at the High Court that declared that the term of Chief Justice Luke Malaba had come to an end. Mnangagwa had extended Malaba’s term using an amendment that the High Court agreed did not benefit the Chief Justice.

Amos Chibaya is a Member of Parliament for Mkoba constituency in Gweru, central Zimbabwe. 43 year-old Chibaya was responsible for organising rallies, particularly the CCC’s first rally ahead of the 26 March by-elections in Highfields, a high-density suburb in Harare which was attended by thousands of supporters.  He was also the National Deputy Chairman of the Youths Assembly from 2000- 2011.

In his late 20s, Gift Ostallos Siziba is the deputy spokesperson for the CCC. He took on that position in October last year. His political history goes back to the University of Zimbabwe where he was a student leader under the banner of a wing of the Zimbabwe National Students Union (ZINASU) that is pro-opposition. Siziba, who ascended to the MDC Alliance youth league leadership, has been arrested several times by the police, abducted and tortured by suspected state security agents for campaigning against the ruling party government. Siziba is Chamisa’s, right-hand man. He stood with Chamisa at critical moments in 2018 during the battle for leadership in the MDC Alliance. He is also a front runner for Chamisa’s business empire in and outside Harare. Many people see Siziba as the future leader of the main opposition party.

The 36 year-old Fadzayi Mahere is a lawyer by profession. She is notable for using social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook to organise protests against President Robert Mugabe’s regime in 2016 known as #thisflagmovement. She has been in independent politics as in 2018 after contesting for a parliamentary seat in the suburbs of Mt Pleasant where she grew up, but lost to an MDC Alliance candidate. She later joined the MDC Alliance in 2019 and became the shadow education minister. She was appointed as the MDC Alliance spokesperson in May 2020, a position she holds in the CCC. Insiders say Mahere is close to Chamisa and they are always seen together conducting party business. She plays a critical role in the CCC’s fight to remove the Zanu PF with her use of Twitter and Facebook and appearances on television and radio channels exposing corruption by government officials. She also pushes back against Zanu PF propaganda. In January last year, Mahere was arrested and charged with peddling falsehoods following a tweet that police had beaten an infant to death of which the police claimed was false.

Hakainde Hichilema shocked Africa last year when he invited both main opposition leaders and incumbent presidents in SADC to attend his inauguration following his victory against Edgar Lungu. Chamisa and Biti attended the ceremony that took place in Lusaka. Chamisa and Hichilema have been allies before the latter ascended to power. Hichilema’s party the United Party for National Development (UPND), particularly its spokesperson Joseph Kalimbwe, have been critical of Mnangagwa and his Zanu PF on social media. The ruling party has desperately been trying to muzzle Kalimbwe with their recent trip to Zambia which did not yield any meaningful results. Zanu PF fears that Hichilema will aid Chamisa to remove the ruling party in the 2023 general polls.

Robert Kyagulanyi Ssentamu, popularly known as Bobi Wine, his stage name, challenged the incumbent Yoweri Kaguta Museveni in the disputed 2021 elections and lost to one of Africa’s longest-running presidents in power. Just like Zimbabwe, Uganda’s political climate is tense and Museveni rules with an iron fist, which has provided for numerous common experiences between allies Wine and Chamisa. In May 2019, Wine was detained at Robert Gabriel Mugabe International Airport in Harare and banned by the authorities to sing his songs at a Chamisa-led MDC congress in Gweru in central Zimbabwe.

After having supported Mnangagwa when he ascended to power through a military coup that toppled Mugabe in November 2017, Ian Khama is now critical of Harare. As Botswana’s President, Khama  had even attended Mnangagwa’s inauguration ceremony in 2018 after winning the disputed elections. Through his social media platforms in 2020, Khama was vocal on Mnangagwa’s gross human rights violations under the guise of Covid-19. He helped push the #Zimbabweanlivesmatter. Insiders say Khama supports the youthful leader Chamisa.

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