President Emmerson Mnangagwa says the doors for national dialogue are wide open but he will not dance to Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa’s pre-conditions for dialogue.
Responding to a letter from Zimbabwe’s church leaders which called for inclusive national dialogue, Mnangagwa said: ‘‘The doors of national dialogue are still open to all political leaders including to the leader of the MDC, which dialogue must proceed without preconditions or any sense of preferential entitlement or recognition on any one’s part, including myself. We are all equal, important and useful in finding solutions to challenges facing our nation.’’
The MDC has set five conditions for national dialogue which include the issue of legitimacy. It has refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s presidency arguing that Chamisa won last year’s elections but was robbed by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission.
Mnangagwa said Chamisa had spurned all calls for dialogue since 2 August last year and refuses to recognise him as President despite losing the election challenge case at the Constitutional Court.
‘‘As the ZHOCD (Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations) would be aware, the national dialogue of all political parties in our country was called and initiated on the 6th February 2019,” he said.
“Before then, on 2nd August 2018 soon after the historic July, 2018 harmonised elections and the unfortunate violence that followed, I, as leader of ZANU-PF, and as the President-elect, called for harmony and dialogue in our nation including pointedly calling on, and inviting the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Advocate Nelson Chamisa, to come on board in amity and brotherhood, to rebuild our broken peace and to re-unite our people in order to take our nation forward. Specifically, and pointedly, I called upon the two of us to ‘lead by example and show Zimbabweans that peace is paramount’.
‘‘Beyond that particular call, I also offered to take steps towards officially recognising Advocate Chamisa as the Leader of the Opposition, the first ever such move and in conformity with Commonwealth practice. Sadly, both my personal calls to him, and all political leaders and parties of our nation regardless of status, went unheeded, and are still to be reciprocated by the MDC leader.
‘‘To date, eight meetings on national political dialogue involving 19 political parties and leaders have taken place with the Inaugural Dialogue Summit having been launched in Harare on 17th May, 2019. Significantly on 8th March, 2019, just a day before your pastoral call, thematic committees of the National Dialogue had met at State House, again without the participation of the MDC and its leadership.
“Since then, the national Dialogue has consensually appointed two convenors, one who is a retired judge and the other who is a chairperson of the Gender Commission which is appointed through Parliament. The two’s stature as impartial convenors of the national dialogue can hardly be gainsaid.
‘’At commemorations of Heroes and Defence Forces Day, I again made a passionate call for national dialogue and national unity for the sake of peace and progress of our nation. The MDC leader is still to requite my goodwill, so repeatedly and unconditionally expressed and extended. Much worse, he is still to respect the legitimate will of the Zimbabwean people, as expressed in the results of the 2018 Harmonised Elections, which the MDC unsuccessfully contested through the Constitutional Court. Repeatedly, the rhetoric from the MDC is one of threatening to overturn the constitutional order ushered in by these internationally observed Harmonised Elections.”
The MDC has called for mass demonstrations across the country which will kick off in Harare tomorrow and go on to Bulawayo on Monday, Gweru on Tuesday Masvingo on Wednesday and Mutare on Thursday.
Opposition leader Lovemore Madhuku said the demonstrations were counter-productive at this moment and accused the MDC leadership of pushing personal interests at the expense of those of their supporters.
Herald correspondent Andrew Maimba said the demonstrations were “a sophisticated effort at blackmail, whose sole agenda is to have the international community turning screws against the government”.
“The MDC-Alliance planned demonstrations smack of a wider agenda that goes beyond mere protests. What we are witnessing at the moment in Zimbabwe is political warfare slowly morphing into an insurgency,” he wrote.
“This insurgency is still at the incipient stage where mobilisation of support and early acts of provocations form the key thrust of the engagement. The objective is to seek both domestic and international support, which is the reason why these demonstrations always coincide with international summits, and/ or conferences.”
In this case, he said, the demonstrations were targeted at the Southern African Development Community summit which kicks off in Dar es Salaam on Saturday.