By Ebi Kesiena
As Zimbabweans go to the polls on Wednesday, thousands of opposition supporters in bright yellow regalia crowded the dusty Robert Mugabe Square in Harare, the Zimbabwean capital, to hear Nelson Chamisa’s final address ahead of Wednesday’s general elections.
Local singers serenaded the crowd, encouraging people to vote for Chamisa, who has been nicknamed “the boy” for his youthful looks. “Ngapinde mukomana,” one sang, using a popular expression, which in the local Shona language means “let the boy in” or “let Chamisa into state house”.
The 45-year-old lawyer and pastor is nearly half the age of his main competitor, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, 80, who says he needs more time to transform Zimbabwe.
Chamisa, a former lawmaker and cabinet minister, is campaigning to create a new great Zimbabwe for everyone with a much-improved economy if he and his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) are voted into power.
Despite being up against Mnangagwa and the governing ZANU-PF, which has been in power since independence in 1980, he is confident the CCC will win Wednesday’s presidential, parliamentary, and council elections.
“From what I’ve seen across the country, we have won big. A lot of you are afraid of a repeat of 2018, but let me assure you that God has remembered Zimbabwe,” said Chamisa.
In the tensely contested 2018 election, Chamisa lost to Mnangagwa, who secured 50.8 percent vote, by a margin of 6.5 percent. Six people were killed by the army in an attempt to disperse protesters who were agitated by the delayed release of the presidential and parliamentary results in Harare.
The courts upheld Mnangagwa’s victory. But Kudakwashe Marizane, 43, a factory worker, believes Chamisa will be victorious this time.
“We are sick and tired of ZANU-PF. Our children need a brighter future. And with Chamisa, it’s possible.”
In the same vein, Thabiso Sibanda, 42, an electrician, said he decided to support Chamisa because he hoped to buy his own home one day and live a better life.