FILE PHOTO: Opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa attends a media briefing in Harare, Zimbabwe, January 29, 2019. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo/File Photo

HARARE, Jan 25 (Reuters) – Zimbabwe’s main opposition leader Nelson Chamisa quit his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) party on Thursday, two years to the day after its formation, saying it had been hijacked by the ruling ZANU-PF in a power grab.

“Fellow citizens, this is to officially and under my hand inform you that, with immediate effect I no longer have anything to do with CCC,” Chamisa wrote in a lengthy statement posted on his X account.

The CCC party, which enjoys huge urban support, won 103 of the 280 seats in Zimbabwe’s main house of Parliament and swept most of the urban councils in last year’s general election.

However, several CCC lawmakers and councillors have been ejected from their seats by an official claiming to the party’s secretary general, but who Chamisa and the CCC say is an imposter.

Efforts to reverse the recalls in the courts have failed. The CCC accuses ZANU-PF, in power since independence in 1980, of using the courts to destroy the opposition.

ZANU-PF has dismissed the accusations, but has benefited from the recalls after winning most of the resultant by-elections.

“The CCC has to all intents and purposes been criminally handed over to ZANU-PF,” Chamisa said in his statement.


The ZANU-PF spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment.

It was not immediately clear if lawmakers and councillors loyal to Chamisa would quit their posts in solidarity, a move which would trigger a wave of by-elections.

Chamisa’s emergence as successor to long-time opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in 2018, triggered leadership battles and splits within Zimbabwe’s main opposition movement.

He formed the CCC in January 2022 after losing a series of court battles over control of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), which first emerged in 2000 as the biggest threat to ZANU-PF’s stranglehold on power.

The 45-year-old lawyer and pastor, who rejected his narrow losses in the last two presidential elections to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, did not give details of his next move, but hinted at forming a new opposition movement.

(Reporting by Nyasha Chingono; Editing by Olivia Kumwenda-Mtambo and Andrew Heavens)