ED Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa dialogue: George Charamba reveals shocking details


FROM as early as 2018, CCC leader Mr Nelson Chamisa sent various envoys who included journalists, businessmen and church leaders to open talks with President Mnangagwa but all his missions collapsed as they were predicated on deceit, dishonesty and double-standards, President Mnangagwa’s spokesperson Mr George Charamba has said.

In his multi-pronged approach that was carried under a thick veil of secrecy and which went on until the eve of this year’s elections, the opposition leader, who bears the unflattering moniker “Cobra” did not involve anyone within CCC.

George Charamba

Instead he, in what is a classic example of hit and miss or trial and error strategy, located persons he thought enjoyed the confidence of the President, and invariably failed because he did not trust anyone within his party.

Between 2018 and 2023 Mr Chamisa sought to engage the President through emissaries, including an audacious attempt to rope in Vice President Chiwenga.

The other intermediaries that he approached include Rev Kenneth Mtata, the secretary general of Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Bishop Nehemiah Mutendi of the Zion Christian Church, lawyers and journalists.

“There is absolute consternation and disgust each time Chamisa repeats what he knows to be false, none of his initiatives came to fruition, it is patently false and obscene grandstanding for him to claim that the President ever sought dialogue with him or his party. The closest that the President got to do that was after the 2018 harmonised elections when he invited Chamisa to put national interests above personal interests, the second was not by way of direct invitation but through the creation of Polad, beyond that, I as the President’s spokesperson I am unaware of any overtures, and I can assure you, I am not ignorant,” said Mr Charamba.

Giving several occasions that Mr Chamisa tried to reach out to the President, Mr Charamba, who is also the Deputy Chief Secretary (Communications) said a few months after the 2018 elections Rev Mtata approached Government structures with a view of having national dialogue, he also wanted to sell the idea of suspending elections for seven years but what discredited him was that what he sold to Government as a church proposal was a blueprint of Chamisa.

“Chamisa disenchanted and disappointed, did not realise that the Government had multiple avenues of tracking the origins of the idea and indeed behind the church lurked the leader of the opposition and that damaged trust,” he said.

Apart from pursuing dialogue through the church, Mr Chamisa also hopped into bed with the Western world, and in that regard the idea of a Government of National Unity migrated to Sweden and incognito in all this was the opposition leader.

When that approach collapsed, Mr Chamisa tried yet again to reach the President through Vice President Chiwenga.

“Naively, Chamisa believed that he could play a divide and negotiate approach, the VP then briefed the President, and to test his sincerity, the President gave the overtures the green light to tag along and see how far Chamisa would go. Chamisa soon realised that the Vice President was not going to be his interlocutor, he was told in clear terms that he should come up with a team that would meet with Zanu PF representatives,” said Mr Charamba.

Towards those mooted talks, the ruling party appointed its Treasurer-General Cde Patrick Chinamasa as its representative, while Mr Chamisa appointed one Utsiwegota and lawyer Innocent Chagonda.

Mr Charamba said when Cde Chinamasa asked for a position paper from the opposition, instead of coming from the two interlocutors, it came from former Minister of State Enterprises and Parastatals Dr Gordon Moyo.

“Gordon Moyo indicated that he was just helping out and was not an emissary of Chamisa, there was no way of establishing the authenticity of the paper and so that idea withered on the vine. Another approach was made directly by Chamisa himself directly to yours truly, we are related, he expressed his desire to reach the President through the VP and I advised him that in my experience, talking from experiences of the Unity Accord, I said he was overreaching by expecting to meet the President, I told him to organise a team to initiate the negotiations, beyond the discussions, which we had, nothing materialised.

“A few months after that, he shifted tact and enlisted some businessman in the food industry, who he thought was close to the First Family, and guess who was his envoy, Hopewell Chin’ono, who was entertained. However, it turned out that Chin’ono was more interested in his own welfare than carrying the message of Chamisa. As in previous instances the interactions died before conception,” he said.

But he was not giving up notwithstanding his lack of transparency and goodwill towards meaningful engagements, Mr Chamisa adopted another approach where former Harare Mayor Mr Jacob Mafume was the interlocutor and approached Bishop Mutendi who taught with his father, again a request was made through Bishop Mutendi but again nothing came out of that.

“When we sat down to collate and assess these multitudes of approaches, they were distinct features that emerged. Foremost, it was clear Chamisa deeply mistrusted fellow members in CCC. He never wanted anyone within CCC to know that he was making overtures, that is why all his overtures were drawn from outside elected party officials in his party.

“Chamisa consistently and persistently stayed clear of officials in the CCC. He did not even mind meeting very junior people from Zanu PF personally. I said to him but you are a whole leader of the opposition why don’t you come up with a team, and he said whoever the President appoints he was willing to talk to them personally,” he said.

Mr Charamba said in the highly secretive overtures through various channels, Mr Chamisa did not exhibit interest in national issues, he wanted direct contact with Zanu PF preferably to talk directly with President Mnangagwa or his deputy Vice President Chiwenga.

“He wanted everything to be held under the veil of secrecy even proposing night meetings. On reflection, it was clear he did not want his party to know he was interested in personal interests over broader notions of national stability, taking a stand against sanctions, engaging financial institutions, reengaging hostile nations. Those issues were not just incidental but peripheral to the theme of the opposition leader.”

Repeated efforts to cajole Mr Chamisa to constitute a team from his party as is the norm in national dialogue fell on deaf ears as he insisted he was in charge of everything.

“At one point in our conversations, he said ‘vakuru ngavangondiona chete, zvikangodaro chete vanotonga kusvika madhongi ave nenyanga. Kwangu ku party (CCC) ndinotonga nedemo, my followers will toe the line. I asked him if he had expectations and he said it is up to the President to decide what he wants with me,” said Mr Charamba.

What is more, the opposition leader who has rejected calls to have an elective congress in his party was not so keen for the August 23 harmonised elections.

“He wanted an election moratorium and that dovetails with the idea of Rev Mtata. It was easy to trace the idea of suspending elections. I have not made reference to the letters which he claims to have written but after all this, an opinion crystallised in the leadership of Zanu PF that Chamisa is a deceitful character, deceitful to his would be interlocutors, deceitful to his party members and ultimately deceitful to himself. He confuses clever politics with deception. He doesn’t realise that trust and honest are fundamental to any form of engagement, this is foreign to him,” said Mr Charamba.

“Towards the August harmonised elections Mr Chamisa also opined that if he had his way, the elections could be aborted. He also wondered if Zanu PF would still be willing to have talks after the elections. Indeed, he went to elections reluctantly as was reported by the Newsday, he did not trust his own people and he was a lonely man.”

Contacted for comment, Mr Chamisa was not picking up his phone last night.

— Herald

Breaking News via Email

Enter your email address to subscribe to our website and receive notifications of Breaking News by email.