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Political archrivals Zanu PF and the opposition MDC-T are ready to 'smoke the peace pipe' in order to resolve the country's economic and political problems.

Responding to a report released by a respected British think tank, Chatham House, calling on the parties to forge an economic alliance to save the country, Zanu PF and MDC-T spokespersons Rugare Gumbo and Douglas Mwonzora said they were ready to engage.

"We are ready, and have always been ready to talk to anyone, including Britain and the opposition here. As long as the discussions are for the benefit of the people, then who in their right senses would refuse that. Our doors are open and the opposition can use the parliament platform to bring to the table matters of substance for the development of the country and we will consider them. My initial reaction though was that this is an interesting development because Chatham House has always been a pro-regime change institution," Gumbo said yesterday.

Mwonzora on the other hand said the report's recommendations dovetailed with the MDC-T's economic revival plan for the country.

"The report 'is on all fours' with our Eight Point Plan for national survival that has been espoused by president Morgan Tsvangirai. We have been clear about dialogue, it is an excellent report and we basically agree with it," said Mwonzora.

Chatham House, home to the Royal Institute of International Affairs, is a world-leading source of independent analysis, informed debate and influential ideas on how to build a prosperous and secure world.

Its report, Zimbabwe International Re-engagement: The Long Haul to Recovery, said Zanu PF remained the most dominant force in Zimbabwean politics and would remain so for some time to come, adding that opposition parties and civil society needed to transform and go through a renewal process.

However, it said the government needed partnerships at home and internationally to pull through.

"The government (of Zimbabwe) on its own cannot re-invigorate the economy. This will require a truly national effort that – even if only temporarily – brings together political, economic and social stakeholders in a collective effort to address the economic crisis. Otherwise, all parties will lose credibility," the think-tank said.

It added that improved relations would depend on the new government's track record on good governance and human rights, while recognising that Zanu PF will remain a dominant factor in the country's political landscape despite factionalism.

Gumbo said Zanu PF was willing to submit itself to human rights scrutiny as long as the West removes all restrictive travel measures.

"We need our leadership to be free to engage and move for the benefit of the country and if we can begin to dialogue at that level then there is no problem," Gumbo said.

The group said while Zimbabwe's opposition and civic society remains pivotal, they needed to go through renewal and transformation given the outcome of the post-Government of National Unity (GNU) electoral outcome.

"The opposition, civil society, business sector and other voices are important, but engagement with the Zimbabwe government is pivotal. Such engagement should be cautious, thoughtful and not uncritical. The post-GNU political landscape has changed and Zimbabwe's opposition and civil society will have to undergo a period of reform and renewal to remain effective influences. The opposition and government should work towards consensual or bipartisan politics, particularly in responding to the various economic challenges the country faces," said the report.

Mwonzora said his party agreed with the contents of the report, including the need for not only the opposition, but all political parties, to watch their relations with others.

"We totally agree with the report that all political parties must undergo reform and renewal. After the elections we need to make the MDC adaptable to the new environment. Before the July election we were in government and we acted as such but after the polls a new political environment in which state power is now (vested in )  with one party, we are now a fully-fledged opposition party. The MDC must therefore reform and adapt," Mwonzora said.

The former Nyanga North legislator said the MDC-T was already undergoing internal organisation reform.

"However, the issue of leadership renewal should be the preserve of our membership and the report does not say we should change our leaders. Renewal must not slide the MDC into undemocratic ways of leadership change," he said.

The Chatham House report urged the government to ask for re-admission into the Commonwealth, a group of former British colonies and Gumbo said it would be a good idea.

Mugabe pulled the country out of the club of former British colonies in the early part of the last decade, following a public diplomatic spat over perceived human rights abuses.

"It will not be such a bad idea because I remember somehow we benefited through some loans and grants before we pulled out, but the bottom line is there should be benefits for Zimbabweans," said Gumbo.

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