A GRIEVING Nelson Chamisa, leader of the opposition MDC Alliance party, has, for the first time, opened up on his humble beginnings, saying his late mother was very instrumental in his meteoric rise to the political scene.
Chamisa’s mother, Alice collapsed and died at the family’s rural homestead in Chiwara communal lands in Gutu South on Monday, leaving behind her husband and four children.
Addressing thousands of mourners at the funeral wake on Wednesday, Chamisa said his mother engaged in vending to raise money for him to go to school.
“Handina kungonyuka kusvika ndisvike pandiri nhasi (my mother toiled for me to become what I am today). It was because of the hard work and tireless efforts of my mother, Mai Neri. She used to sell chickens and vegetables for me to go to school,” a teary Chamisa said.
“She was hardworking and industrious. It is unfortunate that she died before we attained a new Zimbabwe. I want to thank all parents who are toiling to send their children to school.”
An unidentified friend of her mother, who she used to do the vending errands with, corroborated the claims, saying they would walk long distances to sell their wares in nearby farms.
“I partnered his mother back in the day where we used to go to nearby farms selling our stuff. She had an entrepreneurial spirit. This man you see (Chamisa), that you call your president, is a product of humble beginnings,” she testified before the crowd.
MDC Alliance vice-president Lynette Karenyi-Kore said Chamisa’s mother would continue to advise him even when he had entered the country’s political fray.
“I used to come here and interact with his mother,” Karenyi-Kore said.
“She was very generous and you would not leave this homestead without a parcel, be it pumpkins, free range chickens or sweet potatoes. She would advise our president.
“Whenever he was arrested, persecuted, beaten or tortured, she would refuse to eat, feeling for her son. I am sure she was so pained by the recent political developments and was stressed.”
Chamisa was born in Gutu and attended the nearby Vumba Primary School, before enrolling at the Reformed Church in Zimbabwe (RCZ)-run boarding school, Alheit Chingombe 2 High School.
He then did his “A” Levels at Victoria High School in Masvingo, before going to the Harare Polytechnic College, where he started student activism, and later studied law at the University of Zimbabwe when he was Information and Communication Technology minister in the then coalition government between Zanu PF, MDC-T and MDC-M from 2009 to 2013.
After the disbandment of the shaky coalition government, his star continued to shine after the late MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai appointed him co-vice-president of the party with Elias Mudzuri.
When Tsvangirai died, he assumed the presidency of the biggest opposition party and managed to give Zanu PF’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa a good run for his money in the 2018 elections after polling more than two million votes in an election too close to call.
He claims the elections were rigged by Mnangagwa, a sticking point in the country’s democratic landscape up to now.