While addressing Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) supporters in the United Kingdom, Chamisa predicted “a crashing defeat” for President Emmerson Mnangagwa.
In a video he is pictured as saying, “If Mnangagwa wins 5% in a free election, I will give him my sister. I have a sister who just turned 18 and is looking for a husband. I am betting on this because I know it won’t happen.”
Chamisa saying if Mnangagwa wins just 5% in a free election he will give him his sister.
His remark received loud cheers from supporters. pic.twitter.com/fNlnvP1yGC
— Zim Media Review (@ZimMediaReview) May 6, 2018
Although some dismissed his remarks as a “harmless”, others condemned Chamisa for his words, which they felt were misogynistic and disrespectful of women. The comments seemed to echo the attitude towards women in a country where one in every three girls experiences sexual violence before they turn 18 and 78% of women report that their husbands or intimate partners were the perpetrators
it was uncalled for for Chamisa to pledge his sister to ED under any circumstance. such rhetotics widen gender imbalances and has no place in the 21st century. Seeing women as objects that can be donated is regarding them as tabla rasas @matigary @cemambo @VascoDaGappah
— ndawana norest (@NdawanaN) May 7, 2018
This kind of sexist joke might get the crowd laughing but it detracts from your overall message, @nelsonchamisa. People will be talking about this rather than your policy proposals. Worst of all, it perpetuates patriarchal norms that women are property. You’re better than this. https://t.co/XO9NZ4nmn5
— Doug Coltart ✊🏽🇿🇼 (@DougColtart) May 6, 2018
Joke or figurative language – whatever point Chamisa was trying to make – the idea that a presidential candidate could put up his sister as a wager on the outcome of an election is disagreeable.
— Lashias Ncube (@lashiasn) May 6, 2018
After the onslaught of disapproval, Chamisa told BBC, “What’s disrespectful? She is the one who is looking for a husband. She is my sister; there is no sexism there. As far as I am concerned, it is part of our culture. When your sister is about to get married, as a brother, you must help her.”
Gender: That 'Joke' and #Chamisa's failure to apologise for suggesting that speaking of women as chattels is a 'funny' way to respond to a question of what MDC Alliance will do if it loses the vote. His lack of apology implies a poor grasp of both gender and leadership. 17/
— Diana Jeater (@RoseofAcademe) May 10, 2018
However, Chamisa has since apologised for his remark. According to News24, he claimed that although he was not sure why people took offence at his joke, he was “sincerely sorry” to those he “may have hurt”.
He said that the joke was an “illustration” of the ruling ZANU-PF’s inability to “win in a free and fair election”.
“If anyone felt hurt by the joke, I am sorry. It was just political banter to illustrate that even if I promised to give him [Mnangagwa] my most prized possession, he would still not be able to defeat us in a free and fair election,” Chamisa said.
“The joke should have been a non-issue, because most Zimbabweans are worried about issues of survival. This is just a sideshow that is being used by irrelevant people to score cheap political points at my expense,” he continued.
His BBC HardTalk interview also gave insight into many inconsistencies in his rhetoric so far, placing his fitness to lead in even more doubt.