MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is stepping up the chase for talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, to end the country’s decades-long political and economic crises.
Speaking in Harare yesterday at a meeting organised by Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, Chamisa revealed that he had written several letters and also sent a number of emissaries to Mnangagwa about this – to no avail thus far.
At the same time, Chamisa also reiterated his call yesterday for a broad coalition of opposition parties and other key stakeholders to push for reforms and national dialogue.
This was the second time this week that the MDC Alliance leader had publicly and directly called for both all-inclusive national talks and a joining of forces with other key stakeholders to deal with Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges.
“The waiting is over. We have said that it is now time to act and the platform (dialogue) is not supposed to be partisan.
“It is not an MDC affair, it is a citizen affair and that is the clear instruction and signal to the people of Zimbabwe.
“Let’s take up the challenge. Join us. Let’s do something and let’s work on it. The issue of convention is important for us to be able to come together through dialogue,” Chamisa said.
“We can’t converge on the solution if we are not converging on the understanding of what the problem is.
“Zanu-PF would say it’s sanctions. We would say it’s governance. And for us to be able to come together, we must sit down and say what is the problem we are facing.
“And the mistake our colleagues in Zanu-PF are making … is to think that they are the beginning and the end of the definition of what Zimbabwe is,” Chamisa added.
“Patriotism is not partisan. Patriotism is not defined by Zanu-PF. Patriotism is a definition by the collective and our definition of that collective is only a product of proper dialogue and coming together.
“I have written several letters to Mnangagwa. I have sent emissaries to Mnangagwa to say come let us reason together. This problem for Zimbabwe is too big for you.
“You are incapable of solving it alone. It takes two to tango. Come let’s look at the problem together. But he doesn’t listen.
“He has refused to listen. He has refused to understand where we are coming from. You can’t say the country is normal … when student leaders are in jail, when senior MDC members are charged, when workers have had charges. That can’t be normal,” Chamisa said further.
“You can’t be the only one who is right and everyone is wrong. That is what has to be corrected.
“But it starts with understanding that something is fundamentally broken and that it needs to be fixed. And it can only be fixed by all of us,” he also said.
Chamisa added that the MDC Alliance had since approached the African Union and the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) to ensure that all-inclusive dialogue takes place.
“We have done our best. We have gone to Sadc. We continue to go to the AU. We continue to appeal to (South African) President (Cyril) Ramaphosa and also South Africa to play a role to bring us together.
“When two brothers are not agreeing, there is need for a third brother, and we think that South Africa and even Botswana, Malawi or any other brother from Sadc or the AU would be an appropriate umpire to help underwrite and scaffold the coming together of brothers that are not agreeing.
“So, yes, we still hope that it’s possible for people to agree on reforms. We have said we do not want to sit down to share power or to share government.
“We want to share a vision. We want to share a trajectory to the future. We want to share a future and we want to share the reforms that we need to see so that there is no dispute out of any election,” Chamisa said further.
He also said that the responses that they had received from the AU and Sadc were positive.
“The responses are very encouraging because they are making every effort and we are optimistic.
“I also hope that finally Mnangagwa will begin to see light, and will begin to understand that he has to feel for Zimbabweans.
“It’s not a normal country where you wake up to everything not working … nothing functions and that’s a problem.
“We need to begin to start to feel for others. Zimbabweans are suffering and that suffering must really be a wake-up call in the conscience of Mr Mnangagwa.
“Dialogue is important. It’s actually a biblical injunction. Human creatures are a product of a dialogue … No solution to any national problem can be resolved without dialogue ultimately.
“But if dialogue is not a possibility out of persuasion, it must be a possibility out of political action and that is why citizens must come together and unite,” Chamisa added.
Representing the Church at yesterday’s meeting, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya of Zimbabwe Divine Destiny spoke on the importance of a united front to deal with the country’s challenges.
“It should be noted that Zimbabwe has journeyed through torrid cycles of socio-economic and political dark chapters … the events on March 11, 2007 are part of these repeated cycles.
“Now, if 14 years ago we coalesced around issues that bedevilled our country and we still have the same issues if not more, we have to come around once again to build the Zimbabwe that we want,” he said.
On March 11, 2007, the late and much-loved MDC founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, and many other people were savagely bashed by police at a prayer meeting in Harare that had been organised under the Save Zimbabwe Campaign by the opposition, civil society and the Church.
All this comes as there is a growing consensus among Zimbabwe’s key stakeholders on the urgent need for inclusive national dialogue to help end the country’s decades-long myriad challenges.
It also comes as the Church has presented a draft talks framework to Zanu-PF, the MDC, Western powers and other stakeholders – as it pushes for Mnangagwa, opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora and Chamisa to settle their political differences via the negotiating table.
On his part, Mnangagwa has on several occasions invited Chamisa to his Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform – where he regularly holds meetings with fringe opposition leaders who contested him in the 2018 elections.
But Chamisa has spurned the invitation, insisting on talks between himself and Mnangagwa – a proposition that the 78-year-old Zanu-PF leader has flatly rejected.
Speaking during a virtual address on Tuesday, Chamisa also said dialogue was necessary to achieve needed electoral reforms and to avoid disputed elections.
“The agenda for political reforms has been on the table for many years. When the MDC was founded two decades ago, the agenda was to reform governance in Zimbabwe which was already in terminal decline.
“The transformation of governance and society remains at the core of the party’s agenda.
“However, history has shown that there are impediments to the party’s path to power, hence the need for political reforms to level the political playing field,” Chamisa said.
“It is important to have free, fair, and credible elections because they provide the basis for legitimacy. Indeed, this is the principal reason for our call for dialogue.
“It is not to find accommodation in this regime, but to play our part in designing an electoral path that would prevent the risks of illegitimacy that have dogged past elections,” he added.
Chamisa also said dialogue would result in political players and other stakeholders implementing the requisite reforms necessary for free and fair elections – which would aid national development and Harare’s acceptance by the international community.
“More significantly, we continue to hold the view that illegitimacy is a significant barrier to Zimbabwe’s economic progress.
“As long as the government suffers a legitimacy deficit, the country will struggle to attract serious investors.
“To make economic progress, we must resolve the political questions that have long affected the country’s perception in the eyes of the family of nations.
“We must have political reforms that will facilitate legitimate electoral outcomes,” Chamisa said further.