Is Wicknell Chivhayo Now More Popular Than Nelson Chamisa?
15 March 2024
Spread the love

By Garikai Chaunza-In recent times, the spotlight in Zimbabwe has shifted, with controversial businessman Wicknell Chivhayo eclipsing even the charismatic opposition figure Nelson Chamisa in terms of public attention. 

Garikai Chaunza

This shift raises intriguing questions about the dynamics of popularity in contemporary Zimbabwean society. Chivhayo’s sudden surge in prominence can be attributed to his involvement in a Zanu PF-sponsored initiative, where he is on a lavish spree of distributing free expensive cars to Zimbabwean celebrities. 

This strategy, strongly believed to be orchestrated by Zanu PF with an eye on the 2028 elections, aims to leverage the influence of these celebrities to bolster the image of the ruling party, which has been grappling with unpopularity. By aligning himself with Zanu PF’s agenda, Chivhayo has managed to capture the public’s attention in a manner that even seasoned politicians like Chamisa have struggled to achieve. His generosity towards celebrities, mostly musicians and radio DJs, has garnered widespread media coverage and social media buzz, effectively thrusting him into the limelight. 

The argument about Chivhayo’s alignment with Zanu PF can be supported by his mention of either the ruling party or the projects linked to the First family when dishing out these so-called gifts to the recipients.

Meanwhile, Chamisa, once hailed as the most sought-after political figure in Zimbabwe finds himself in a relatively subdued position. Since his departure from the Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) in January, Chamisa has maintained a low profile, seemingly sidelined from the political discourse that he once dominated.

Chamisa’s diminished presence can be attributed to internal strife within the opposition movement, as evidenced by his departure from the party he founded nearly three years ago. Allegations of betrayal and intrigue among his close allies have further weakened his position, leaving him with fewer avenues to assert his influence.

Moreover, Chamisa’s electoral defeat in the 2018 elections, which he claims was marred by rigging orchestrated by Zanu PF, has undoubtedly dented his aura of invincibility. Despite his spirited challenge to President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s rule, Chamisa’s inability to clinch victory in the face of alleged electoral malpractice has raised questions about his political efficacy.

In comparing the popularity of Chivhayo and Chamisa, it becomes apparent that the former’s ascent is emblematic of a broader trend in Zimbabwean society. The allure of wealth and extravagance, coupled with strategic alliances with powerful political entities, can often overshadow the charisma and political acumen of even the most formidable opponents.

However, it would be premature to write off Chamisa entirely. His resilience and ability to connect with ordinary Zimbabweans have been evident throughout his political career. While he may currently be facing challenges, Chamisa has proven himself to be a formidable force in Zimbabwean politics, capable of staging comebacks and reshaping the political landscape.

I argue that the rise of Chivhayo vis-à-vis Chamisa underlines the complex interplay between controversial wealth, power, and charisma in shaping public perceptions. 

While Chivhayo’s prominence may be a testament to the allure of his controversial material wealth and political patronage, Chamisa’s enduring appeal lies in his ability to champion the aspirations of the Zimbabwean people. 

As the political landscape continues to evolve, only time will tell whether Chivhayo’s moment in the spotlight is fleeting or if Chamisa can reclaim his position as the preeminent figure in Zimbabwean politics.

About the author

Garikai Chaunza is a Zimbabwean journalist and writes in his own capacity as a Zimbabwean citizen.