Editorial Comment: Of grandstanding, self-defeating testimonies

ON Monday, MDC-Alliance leaders — party president Mr Nelson Chamisa and vice chairman Mr Tendai Biti — appeared before the Motlanthe Commission investigating Zimbabwe’s post-election violence.

And just as we had foretold, they went on to deliver political sermons meant to achieve certain political goals that are not within the immediate purpose of the Commission.

The two testimonies were delivered on three bases: namely, attempting to discredit the commission; making the false case that the MDC-Alliance won the harmonised elections and disowning the perpetrators of violence.

These premises are not entirely new.

Some opposition-linked witnesses who have appeared before the Commission have previously sought to throw doubt on the integrity and credibility of individual commissioners and Mr Biti, in characteristic bombast, could not resist the temptation.

The two opposition figures then went to great lengths in trying to paint themselves as victims rather than perpetrators of violence.

The accounts they gave, including where they alleged to have been personally affected, are  of course largely immaterial to the extent that they were located in the previous administration of former president Mugabe whose temperament is well divorced from the current Second Republic leadership of President Mnangagwa.

Zimbabwe under President Mnangagwa has been freer and more democratic.

President Mnangagwa made sure that peace prevailed during campaigns and elections. No one was brutalised in the period, as indeed has been the case in the whole new dispensation.

The single violent act of August 1 was something that shocked Zimbabwe and the world as it went against the grain. This is the reason why a commission with international flair and credibility was appointed.

For Messrs Chamisa and Biti to try to paint systematic violence and carnage by using the example of Mr Mugabe’s Zimbabwe is not only an anachronism. It is also dishonest. Trying to appropriate victimhood is disingenuous, especially by people who on numerous occasions incited a violence in the post-election period through inflammatory language, half-truths and propaganda.

Mr Biti

The obnoxious idea of “defending the vote” came from the MDC leadership that told its supporters that anything short of victory for the party amounted to “stealing of the vote”.

People who illegally and violently demonstrated on August 1 answered the call to “defend the vote” and acted on the propaganda and lies that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission had delayed announcing the presidential election results to allow for rigging, itself an alleged case of “stealing the election”.

They openly chanted MDC-Alliance slogans, wore T-shirts emblazoned with Mr Chamisa’s image and went on to destroy the property at the rival Zanu-PF provincial and general headquarters.

It takes a lot of incredibility to distance these people from Mr Chamisa’s MDC-Alliance, even try as Mr Chamisa did before the Commission and on previous occasions where he had already pre-empted his showing at the Commission. As a cornerstone of his submissions at the Commission, Mr Chamisa failed to convince.

Lastly, there is something notable in the other key pillar of the MDC-Alliance men’s approach to the Commission. They tried hard to convince the world that their party won the harmonised elections, something that is rather ridiculous given the fact that the matter was dealt with by the Constitutional Court.

At the apex court, it will be recalled, the MDC-Alliance failed dismally to make a case that they won the election or that it was stolen.

That Mr Chamisa sought to make amends before the Commission was ridiculous, but not unexpected. At the end of the day, Mr Chamisa and his colleague had a stage for their unending electioneering and politicking.

That was, conceivably, the object of all the sound and fury.