Over the past few months one thing about Nelson Chamisa has become abundantly clear – he has no respect for women. None at all.
Let’s start with his own family. His sister for example, who he offered to ED in a bet. His defence – he was joking, and anyway, in Zimbabwe men are responsible for women like this – was not much of a defence. Normal people do not joke about family members in this way. The fact that when looking for an example to illustrate how likely he was to win, the first thing he thought of was betting his sister, speaks volumes about how he really feels about women.
Or what about his wife, who Chamisa has made very clear knows that her duties are only at home, and will not be allowed to be involved in anything outside the domestic domain. While it is completely legitimate for women to focus their energies on the home if they choose, the key point here is choice. In this case, the choice is Chamisa’s, and not his wife’s!
If he has such little respect for the women in his own family, what hope is there for the women he encounters in his professional life.
He certainly has no respect for Thokozani Khupe, a fearsome trade unionist, cancer activist and politician. Chamisa has turned a blind eye to violence against her by his personal militia as well as savage sexist attacks by his supporters. All for the crime of seeing herself – a woman – as his equal.
The same is true of Justice Chigumba, a well-respected judge doing a very difficult job as chair of the ZEC. Some claim she is showing bias towards the government, others disagree.
But for Chamisa, her performance can only be seen through the prism of her gender. Instead of cautioning his supporters that chanted “hure” at her, Nelson’s silence spurred them on. And when his supporters initiated outrageous and unfounded sexual slurs against her, the sort of accusations that would never be labelled at a man, Chamisa ‘victim-blamed’ her by saying she deserved it.
Even the First Lady has not escaped Chamisa’s ire, with him criticising her for “jumping up and down like a chicken.” Her offense appears to be her independent efforts to help Zimbabweans through her Angels of Hope Foundation, which clearly goes against his fixed views of the role of women.
The surprising thing is that amidst this sea of misogyny, chauvinism and sexism, there is one woman who has escaped his ire. The one woman who Chamisa will not criticise – Grace Mugabe.
Despite the fact that Grace is one of the least popular people in Zimbabwe, almost universally reviled for her corrosive impact on our society, she seems to be the one woman Nelson respects.
He has embraced her political party, taken her money to fund his campaign, and has even invited her to join his MDC Alliance. Considering these facts, his weak denials that she will be his Vice President are difficult to take seriously. After all, if he really wanted to put this issue to bed, why not announce a Vice Presidential candidate that isn’t Grace?
The obvious question to ask is why? Some claim that this is a marriage of convenience, in which Chamisa is desperate for Grace’s cash. Others argue that there is a genuine rapport and respect between the two. Or maybe it’s just that Chamisa is so desperate for power that he will do and say anything to get there.
But the simple facts are that over the past six months, Nelson Chamisa has belittled almost every woman he has come into contact with, except one.
Grace Mugabe truly is the only woman he respects, and we should all be worried.