Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa changes party name

Nelson Chamisa (File: AFP)

Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader announced Monday his party will drop its storied but contested name, sidestepping factional squabbles and a legal dispute.

Nelson Chamisa, who narrowly lost elections in 2018 to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, announced he had registered a new party called Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC).

“We are having citizens coming together. It’s a citizens’ affair. It’s a citizens’ indaba (meeting). It’s a citizens’ decision,” Chamisa told a news conference.

“It’s a citizens’ way to say we want change for Zimbabwe. So farmers for change, we want to see what you are doing. Teachers for change, we want to see what you are doing.”

The decision drops the name of the Movement for Democratic Change, which was formed out of the union movement in 1999 to challenge the ruling ZANU-PF’s stranglehold on power.

The MDC quickly emerged as the most potent opposition party that Zimbabwe had ever seen, inspiring labour groups around the region to take similar steps into politics.

But in recent years, the party has splintered into a variety of groupings all claiming the MDC name, symbols and colours.

The bickering has led to court battles and invited confusion among voters.

The CCC adopted the colour bright yellow, instead of MDC’s red.

Chamisa registered the party with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission ahead of by-elections in March to fill 133 local and parliamentary seats.

Those give Chamisa a chance to test drive the CCC ahead of the next general elections in 2023.

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