Zimbabwe’s opposition leader seeks ‘fresh start’ with new partyFri, 26 Jan 2024 14:38:40 GMT

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa told AFP on Friday he will stay in politics and look to form a new political group, a day after he quit his own party denouncing government infiltration.Chamisa, who in August lost an election he described as fraudulent to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, said he was ready for “a new thrust” after leaving the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) on Thursday. “I am definitely not quitting, because winners don’t quit. And quitters never win,” he told AFP in an interview in the garden of an office in Harare.He decided to exit the coalition party he formed only two years ago to “draw a line in the sand” after it was hijacked by the ruling ZANU-PF party.”A break with the past is also a signal to the commencement of the future. We are saying enough is enough,” he said. “What we are is a new approach, a new way, a fresh start,” he said without revealing a new party name. “We are building a big church.”Mnangagwa, 81, won a second term in office, beating Chamisa, 45, in an election for which international observers said the vote fell short of democratic standards and political tensions.The vote also gave ZANU-PF a majority in parliament but the ruling party in power since independence in 1980 fell a few seats short of the two-thirds majority required to change the constitution. Political tensions have since run high. Dozens of opposition lawmakers have lost their seats under what analysts said appears to be an artificial political crisis. This was triggered by an obscure political figure who declared himself the CCC’s “interim secretary general” and recalled the lawmakers sparking a series of by-elections that have so far favoured ZANU-PF.Chamisa has been here before.He first lost a disputed election to Mnangagwa in 2018 at the helm of the long-standing opposition party Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).In 2022, after factional squabbles and legal disputes he attributed to ZANU-PF, Chamisa broke away from the MDC and set up the CCC.In a bid to avoid external meddling, he kept party structures secret — something that critics say allowed for the current crisis. A former pastor and a lawyer, he said he has now learnt his lesson.”We’ve learned our ways. We’ve seen that we’re dealing with a toxic and dangerous ruling party,” he said. “So we will not repeat that same mistake. We’ll do our politics in a different way.”