THE Zanu PF regime has come to start admitting the need for political dialogue and some overtures are already being made.

According to The News Leader, South Africa has also been making low-level engagements and wants to push for political dialogue between Zanu PF and the opposition. Information gleaned from both Harare and SA shows that there is an increasing admission that the national crisis in Zimbabwe needs to be addressed before it implodes again.

Last week a delegation of Zanu PF and MDC representatives convened a mini conference in Tanzania organised by the Netherlands Institute of Multi-Party Democray, in conjunction with regional organisations such as the Zimbabwe Institute. The Zanu PF delegation was headed by President Mugabe's nephew, Patrick Zhuwawo. MDC's deputy chairman, Morgen Komichi led his party's delegation, while the group of MDC rebels sent MPs Lucia Matibenga and Settlement Chikwinya.
Sources have revealed to us that the Zanu PF delegation admitted and revealed that the ruling party now believes dialogue is the way to go.

"Zhuwawo made it clear that Zanu PF is ready and willing to engage in dialogue. Serious deliberations centred on the national crisis and all the parties agreed that there was need for an initiative to find a solution."

We failed to communicate with Zhuwawo to obtain his comment, but Zanu PF spokesman Rugare Gumbo said talks were possible.

"National engagement and dialogue are progressive initiatives and must be encouraged whenever necessary. But there is no plan that l can confirm now and we are the legitimate government," Gumbo said.

Despite Gumbo's claims, our sources in Zanu PF have revealed that deliberations have been going on, centred around ways of engaging the opposition for dialogue. The Mugabe government has been grappling with deeply-entrenched economic challenges, without any signs of easing. There has however been conflict on how to proceed.

We have it on good authority that Vice President Joice Mujuru has been unwavering on the position that the ruling party should engage the opposition to solve the political and economic crisis.

"Mujuru's position is that we have failed and can't go it alone without presiding over a worse situation. She believes we have only one option and that is political dialogue," a source said.

Mujuru has consistently been admitting the fix that the Zanu PF government is in, saying that, 'we have failed' as well as trashing the economic policy, Zimasset, which she said is "flawed'. An impeccable source said Mujuru is outwitting the rival Mnangagwa faction on the dialogue approach, with the latter reportedly having been resisting the push to engage the opposition in formal talks.

The Mnangagwa faction has been hoping to push through a plan that would have seen a few opposition elements, led by former MDC secretary general Tendai Biti being incorporated into government. The plan would have sidelined popular MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai and forge an elitist coalition arrangement meant to give a semblance of unity to try and unlock the crisis of political legitimacy.

The plan has failed due to the lack of progress by the Biti group of MDC rebels' mission of toppling MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai. Unconfirmed reports suggest that Mujuru's initiative has lately seen some low-level engagements with MDC elements, pondering on formal talks.

Tsvangirai has, since beginning of the year, been calling for national dialogue, as a way to solve the crisis of legitimacy.

Last year's election results were dismissed by the opposition following serious irregularities as Zanu PF claimed an overwhelming victory. That created a crisis of legitimacy and resulted in an economic decline, which has continued to worsen during the first half of this year.

Meanwhile, President Jacob Zuma in South Africa has been engaging and consulting on the Zimbabwean situation, and reportedly in agreement about "the need to prevent things getting out of hand', according to a diplomatic source.

It is reported that Zuma's office has been making contacts with the Zanu PF hierarchy, including at some point Mugabe himself, about the need for national dialogue.

Our sources also say former South African leader Thabo Mbeki has also been making efforts aimed at urging Zimbabwe's political foes to start engaging.

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