It is a mild Saturday afternoon in Harare and the date is July the 28th, just two days before the public goes to a general election to vote in the people who will serve their interests for the next five years.
Although there are 23 candidates contending for the presidency, most people understand the real contest is between the 75-year-old incumbent president Emmerson Mnangagwa, a party hardliner, and the youthful Advocate and cleric Nelson Chamisa, who only become eligible to run for office on his last birthday after taking over from his deceased superior Morgan Richard Tsvangirai.
The prospect of losing Monday’s presidential election appears inconceivable to supporters of both candidates. A historic election in itself, the champ will become Zimbabwe’s first elected leader since former president Robert Mugabe was toppled in November 2017.
So, in a last feat of publicity, the two frontrunners gathered in huge numbers at the final election rallies in the capital Harare to publicly back them one last time before ballots are cast.
The interim president and Zanu-PF leader E.D. Mnangagwa, reiterating his signature mantras that The Voice of the people is the Voice of God and that Zimbabwe is Open for Business, wound up his campaign at a near-full 60,000-seater National Sports Stadium by affirming that a new future was on the scope if Zanu-PF retains power.
Zanu supporters, eager to talk to freely, scoffed at the notion that Chamisa could win Monday’s poll, with many expressing that the MDC leader was awfully young, inexperienced and impetuous to rule.
Concurrently, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader, Nelson Chamisa – couple of kilometres away – a charismatic and a recherché 40-year-old orator and lawyer leading an alliance of opposition parties, assured his patrons at Freedom Square that the vote was already won.
His rally had a strong youth contingent and it elicited a much bigger crowd than Zanu-PF’s.
In his address, Chamisa, running with a pious #Godisinit warble, challenged Zimbabweans saying that the country would be wrecked for the foreseeable future if they miss the Monday’s opportunity.
“What is wanted now is one push to have the most thunderous victory in the history of this country. Today, we unlock the potential of our beloved homeland to build a new Zimbabwe for all,” said Nero, as his votaries affectionately calls him.
In that brief, barely perceptible moment, Chamisa is sending a message to those with ears to hear—that he recognises what a degenerate state the Southern African country, once a breadbasket of the entire region, has become; that he knows just what sort of men he was up against; and that while things may look bad now, there is a grand purpose at work here.
He promised a plan that will manifest itself in a short period once he ascends on the chair. Let not your hearts be troubled, he seems to say, I’ve got this one.
Even though both sets of supporters gathered near each other, the day was free of violence, a rare feature in the preceding polls.
However, the country is flung into a high-pitched hysteria as supporters of both parties oversaturates the airwaves, print media and cyberspace, insisting their party would emerge victoriously, and if it did not, they would “defend their vote” in the days ahead.
The latest election survey by a research company Afrobarometer on who Zimbabweans want as their next leader put a meagre three percentage points between the pair, with Mnangagwa backed by 40 per cent and Chamisa 37 per cent of the 2,400 people polled. In total, the survey revealed that 20 per cent of interviewees were undecided.
Monday, July 30 eventually came.
The masses voted peacefully in an environment that most external observers have construed as calm, with just a few raising the red flag that the playing field was not level for all political parties as they reported incidents of intimidation, using food aid and traditional leaders to accumulate support and the huge number of assisted voters.
Because God works in inexplicable ways, it was President Mnangagwa — a courteous, amiable, honest to goodness crocodile, — who tumbled from the mountaintop in the breaking summer of the 2018 presidential election, having garnered 2 460 463 votes.
His arch-rival Chamisa, despite having tweeted that he was ‘winning resoundingly’, was knocked out as he amassed 2 147 436 votes.
Mnangagwa won 50, 8 per cent of the overall votes while Mr Chamisa had 44, 3 per cent.
In view of the fact that #Godisinit or was in it, and owing to an aura of ambiguity that overshadowed the electoral environment, the MDC Alliance has scrapped the poll outcome and assembled a team of legal experts to sift through the electoral data and mount a strong challenge against President Mnangagwa’s triumph. Chamisa had vowed to fight the result, demanding that the Zimbabwe Electoral Commision (ZEC) release constituency-based tallies.
Now with the elections quickly diminishing in the behind – at least for many people – a challenge that has baffled many people is; was God ever in Chamisa’s campaign?
In the common powers of reasoning that all of us have, we know that nobody ever fought God and won; how come Chamisa lost if he had the utmost divinity with him?
Well, we cannot speak for God, but we have the freedom to speculate and theorise.
Political besmirching aside, Mr Chamisa ran an indelible vibrant race and that will forever be ensconced in the history of this nation. Many people can concur that he registered himself as a force that could barely be missed.
Employing oratory skills honed in the courtroom and pulpit, he has plotted an election victory by galvanising his opposition party with folksy speeches and assurances of swift economic revival, Reuters noted.
An ordained pastor after completing a diploma in theology with the Apostolic Faith Mission (AFM) in Zimbabwe’s Living Waters Theological Seminary two years ago, it was easy to see how he could put so much faith in the possibilities of a divine intervention, bullet trains, and all that colourful talk he peddled across the country.
He has a much-documented life experience of being born again, a regular church congregant, and spoke about God and Jesus in ways that sound so natural.
Even that he was standing behind a lectern bearing the ecclesiastical seal and running for the biggest office in the country was a marvel. Just a year earlier, he was an embattled young parliamentarian with underwater approval ratings who even faced a dismal election in the 2014 party General-Secretary election.
So, presented with this, many would presuppose that God was intrinsically in his campaign.
Yet, some may have a distinct viewpoint. They would defend to the moribund that God was never in it. They would argue that bearing the ecclesiastical seal alone is not enough to claim that one has God with. It requires a personal relationship with him.
Suppose he was in it initially – hypothetically speaking – they would say, he might have been made to leave by the young man’s eccentric and erroneous political conduct, oftenest of which left his reputation in tatters.
Among other misdeeds he stands charged of are Machiavellianly usurping power, fomenting violence at Tsvangirai’s funeral, disinforming people about meeting American president Donald Trump and villainising his once colleague Thokozani Khupe and calling her all sorts of vile names.
With all that on the surface, the question of whether God would wed himself with such an irreverent man is not without its theological considerations.
While some may aver that such behaviour might have expelled an ever holy God from the association, some would contend and compare Chamisa to numerous biblical kings, most often as a contemporary David, a rudimentary man singled out by God to lead Israel.
But the enigma remains unattended if one hermeneutically reads Romans 13:1 which says;
“Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.”
Suffice to say, if the Bible has any place in the politics of the land, which we are satisfied it bears, it is beyond doubt that the above verse affirms that in the 2018 elections God established Mnangagwa as the president.
But, the theological cooler heads might not just sit down and stare at things in that black and white view. Many of us are convinced from Scripture that God is absolutely sovereign. The Bible indicated that God can control man and the weather and everything. He has that kind of power. But does that mean God controls all things all the time and how do we know that?
That could be something to think about.
So, the question of whose side God was on aside, perhaps we could say Mr Mnangagwa won because he has the majority vote, the loudest voices, institutional power and money, and maybe, the opposition lost because they were fired-up but under-funded (bearing in mind that they ran a campaign on a zero budget) and scattered (the Khupe factor).
How both ended up where they are now, we too, only know as little as most of do. But what is certain is a winner emerged from this election and it was not Nelson Chamisa.
So, whether God was in it, was made to leave or, or was never in it hovers as a subject of great conflict.
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