Home » Governance » Manheru On Chamisa – a Case of the Devil Getting It Right! [opinion]

Perennial wisdom dictates that it is an effort in futility to bite the hand that feeds you. Likewise, few shed tears over the naivety of a moron who falls from a tree after cutting the branch he sat on against all advice.

In as much as many find it unpalatable to stomach Nathaniel Manheru’s argument in his public spat with MDC politician Nelson Chamisa vis-a-vis the recent Supreme Court ruling allowing employers to dismiss workers on notice without severance packages, it is equally futile to do so without digesting the facts surrounding the whole saga.

In Shona, vakuru vanoti shoko harivhikwi nechibhakera, the implication being that in every argument raised, there is always the other side of the coin strong enough to balance the argument.

But in comes one Manheru, who is indeed not a stranger to controversy. In fact in local media, he has cast himself in no other form than that of an infamous bootlicker; carelessly flapping his acid tongue and vomiting bile, never mind his mastery of the English language.

Of course, this strange behaviour has a history which is the subject of another day. More to the point, Manheru takes no prisoners as he savages not only Chamisa and Chagonda (respondents) in the case under discussion, but, also Lovemore Madhuku (appellant) and Munyaradzi Gwisai who came to the defence of the sacked workers, with the latter simply dismissed as someone perched somewhere on the legal haystack.

Manheru, strongly believed to be President Robert Mugabe’s garrulous spokesperson George Charamba, simply bulldozes anyone he thinks could spill the bowl he troughs from. What an arrogant bootlicker in Mugabe’s banana republic where everything falls apart!

Manheru gloats that Chamisa and Chagonda, a known sympathiser of the pro-labour MDC, have triggered – through the unpopular Supreme Court ruling – the current wave of retrenchments within the private sector.

What a paradox, Manheru is mesmerised! In fact, it would have made sense if Zuva Petroleum was represented by none other than Jonathan Samkange, a well-known Zanu PF sympathiser or Manase with Chamisa and Chagonda on the defence of the appellants.

Of particular interest in the whole saga is the fact that Manheru savages everyone in the soap; appellants, respondents, the court, Gwisai and the ZCTU represented by its secretary general Japhet Moyo. This is predictable more so as he conveniently hides skeletons in his cupboards while faking a peacemaker.

How then did Manheru outwit Chamisa as instead of him being the devil’s messenger, the parrot turned into an “angel” overnight? Firstly, by representing Zuva Petroleum against aggrieved workers, Chamisa and Chagonda, as Manheru argues, forgot that they had a

conflict of interest in the soap opera, being prominent MDC-T personalities. They forgot, for a moment, that they were avowed defenders of Don Nyamande and Kingston Donga’s cause, in their political lives.

Chamisa, the lawyer, is still the same politician who will address workers at Sakubva Stadium, urging them to fight for their rights against unscrupulous employers and how will the young man reconcile these two roles, Manheru argues? Talk of the devil quoting the Bible!

Secondly, as Manheru argues, in as much as Chamisa has an obligation to represent his clients in a court of law, as per legal argument, the young politician fails to realise that this requirement is of little significance in politics. In fact, one runs out of words as to how

Chamisa would respond if asked by Mwale and Kitsiyatota to represent the two in court over the unresolved case of Tichaona Mabika.

In any case, Chamisa was not held at gunpoint to represent Zuva Petroleum against the aggrieved workers, for, the young lawyer had several options before him. Alternatively, the legislator could have recused himself from the case, but, against all odds he decided to

bite the hand that raised him. Much to the delight of Manheru, the drama becomes more fascinating considering the fact that the MDC-T still touts itself as a pro-workers party.

Thirdly, Manheru chides Chamisa for his alleged naivety when the legislator hails the Supreme Court judgment as “a landmark” ruling, for which the lawyer derives glory and delight in his legal victory. Aish, what a career threatening gaffe! It implies that even today,

Chamisa hasn’t realised that his is betrayal of the highest magnitude, for, he can’t afford to celebrate the demise of Don Nyamande and Kingston Donga.

In this case, Munyaradzi Gwisai and Japhet Moyo are justified in reprimanding the legislator because his actions have exposed the opposition to unnecessary attacks from both foes and friends and it will be an uphill task to manage the fallout from this drama.

Indeed, how can Chamisa explain to the public, and the opposition in particular, the source of his delight at the ruling that has precipitated the dismissal of thousands of employees with no cent in the name of severance packages? This case reminds readers of the

Biti/Gono saga against Munyaradzi Kereke; and where are we today?

How then can Chamisa’s logic be explained as he hails the Supreme Court ruling as a landmark judgment? Firstly, the legislator was bound by his legal obligation to represent his client whatever the conflict of interest. Again, one wonders why he didn’t recuse himself from the case considering that in as much as his client had the right to receive or reject his services, the young lawyer enjoyed the same right too.

Could the lure of the elusive dollar have blinded him somewhat? In this case, it would be difficult to comprehend how people easily forget their roots for Chamisa is the child of the labour movement and it is these workers, Don Nyamande and Kingston Donga included, who were behind his rise to prominence.

Alternatively, it could be argued that being an amateur lawyer, the young legislator underestimated the consequences of his decision to represent Zuva Petroleum against victimised workers. It will be interesting however to hear his thoughts even if the proverbial horses have already bolted.

On the other hand, Chamisa could have foreseen all the repercussions being witnessed now but decided to go against party conscience to side with the employer and not the employee. This though would make an interesting case study for matters involving private and party business. But the bottom line is; whatever Chamisa does in private, just like any other politician, will follow him to his party, and the consequences are there for all to see.

He inadvertently armed career critics like Manheru who see him now as a conflicted politician. Politicians have to accept this reality and trend with caution in whatever they do even in the deep privacy of their thick walled bedrooms. Indeed, Manheru could epitomise the devil, but it is foolhardy for one to dismiss him just like that.

I rest my case.

William Muchayi is a pro-democracy activist and political analyst.

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