INTERACTION between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition figures will only be a fixture of post-election Zimbabwe and not before, Information, Media and Broadcasting Services Secretary Mr George Charamba has said.
Mr Charamba’s comment comes after MDC Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa wrote to President Mnangagwa recently asking for inclusion in a Government of national unity similar to the Kenyan arrangement featuring President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Mr Raila Odinga.
President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga signed a unity deal in March after a hotly contested 2017 election.
Mr Charamba yesterday said indeed Mr Chamisa had written to President Mnangagwa asking for inclusion in the next Government.
Mr Chamisa himself recently told MDC-T supporters in Wedza South that: “I wrote to (President) Mnangagwa offering him advice, but he refused fearing that I would grab power from him. I did that after realising that we could only take the country forward through collective leadership but he refused to meet me.”
Yesterday Mr Charamba said Mr Chamisa had asked for such a Government of national unity.
“Indeed, he wrote asking for inclusion in a Government of national unity, which is why he has given an example of Kenya – President Uhuru and Mr Odinga,” said Mr Charamba.
He said Mr Chamisa’s request sought to violate the “democratic will of Zimbabweans in honour of a bilateral arrangement, more so when that arrangement stems from a fear of elections.”
“In any event, at the material time and as indeed is the case now, Mr Chamisa was a contender for the leadership of their party who sought to improve his chances and upgrade his standing by looking like an equivalent of the President of Zanu-PF,” said Mr Charamba.
“He wasn’t then, he is not now.”
Mr Charamba said the Kenyan example Mr Chamisa was using did not help his situation.
“The example of Kenya he gives does not help his argument in that the Uhuru-Odinga understanding came after a democratic election and not before it,” said Mr Charamba.
“Indeed, I am sure the President will be amenable to inviting Mr Chamisa after he has lost election – the same way Uhuru invited Odinga.
“On the President meeting opposition leaders, it is not a new idea from Mr Chamisa as he is aware that the interaction between the President and the opposition started before the death of Mr Tsvangirai as an initiative of President Mnangagwa.
“It was on the basis of that gesture that the whole funeral of Mr Tsvangirai became a national issue. Equally, it was because of that gesture that all opposition figures, Mr Chamisa included, were able to attend the inauguration of the President, as well as our independence celebrations,” said Mr Charamba.
He said President Mnangagwa had already made it clear on when he was going to meet the opposition.
“Coming specifically to interacting with opposition figures, let it be known that the President has already made it clear that after nomination on the 14th of June, at which stage genuine and serious political actors will be known, the President intends to invite all contesting parties for a meeting,” he said.
“I suppose Mr Chamisa thinks the process is too slow for him, but where you have over 128 parties it is only natural that we wait for the nomination to do the screening for us so genuine players are known.”
Last week, President Mnangagwa proclaimed July 30 as the date for harmonised elections to choose the President, National Assembly members and councillors.
The Nomination Court will sit on Thursday next week while the President fixed September 8, 2018 as the date for the Presidential election run-off if that becomes necessary.