Despite the denials in the officialdom, the European Union (EU) and the British government seem to be succeeding in mellowing protagonists in the Zimbabwe crisis and nudging them towards some form of a unity government.
The international media first leaked reports of the talks mid this month, which were later corroborated by the Daily News.
The EU and the UK, it would appear, want President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government to officially recognise the MDC Alliance — Zimbabwe’s main opposition party — in exchange for international recognition, which is critical in unlocking economic aid and access to financial institutions such as the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
As part of the arrangement, this could see Zimbabwe adopting the British parliamentary system, where the leader of the opposition and his chief whip are paid by the State.
As if to confirm this, Chamisa held talks on Tuesday with the British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Liang whom he has often accused of being pro-Zanu PF.
Without delving into details of their meeting, Chamisa confirmed the meeting on micro-blogging platform Twitter.
“The future is very bright….had a great meeting with the British Ambassador Catriona on Zimbabwe’s economy, national debt, governance and the post-election way forward. Zim-UK relations key flourish,” he tweeted.
“To move forward, Zimbabwe needs truth, dialogue, healing, peace and citizens’ consensus based on good governance and human rights. To end all disputes, we need a package of legal and political reforms to transform the way the state and elections are run,” he said.
In his interview with South Africa’s SABC, Chamisa seemed to give conflicting signals by indicating that his party will not enter into any government of national unity with Zanu PF while not completely ruling out talks, which sources said were taking place behind the scenes.
“People are actually saying Chamisa don’t work with these people, don’t join hands with the crocodile, he will drown you. Look at what happened to… (Morgan) Tsvangirai, he was diluted, we were diluted and ended up being manipulated out of government. We don’t want positions, we want alternative government,” Chamisa said.
Chamisa went into the July 30 polls under protest over what his party said was the existence of an uneven electoral playing field.
He immediately emerged after the voting day to claim he had won the plebiscite.
Official results spoke a different story, which saw the MDC Alliance leader unsuccessfully approaching the Constitutional Court (Con-Court) on August 10 to overturn Mnangagwa’s victory.
The application was dismissed with costs, paving way for Mnangagwa’s inauguration on Sunday.
Regardless, Chamisa insists he will pursue political channels to protest the alleged manipulation of the vote.
This has angered hardliners in Zanu PF who are now stonewalling the idea of an electoral pact with the MDC Alliance.
Zanu PF secretary for legal affairs Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana told the Daily News recently that Chamisa’s party squandered the goodwill that existed when they decided to go to the courts challenging Mnangagwa’s win and also his legitimacy.
A top MDC official who asked not to be named told the Daily News yesterday that the party was divided over the issue, with hardliners urging Chamisa to spurn the UK and the EU’s overtures and start rebuilding the party with the 2023 polls in mind.
Others are, however, getting exhausted with the protracted standoff and are leaning towards some form of unity government, in which the MDC could come in as a junior partner. An MDC insider told this paper that those supporting such a marriage of convenience were looking beyond the elections in order to move the country forward.
“This country needs to move forward and the results show that the country is divided; the main opposition should not be taken as an enemy of the country. In some countries, (citizens) are building their nations… we are having difficulties with Zanu PF because we have people who believe they own this country,” said the insider.
Ambassadors from British and the EU ambassadors were still to respond to questions sent to them via e-mail at the time of going to print.
Analysts are adamant that Mnangagwa should not bank on the Con-Court ruling to give him legitimacy, suggesting he needs the opposition to help him achieve international support.
Academic and scholar Pedzisai Ruhanya echoed these sentiments on Facebook, saying legitimacy was not bestowed by legal processes only and neither was it a product of law.
He said legitimacy was more a social contract between the governors and the governed deeply rooted in political and social processes.
Since toppling Mugabe last November, the so-called new dispensation has tried to woo the international community, including initiating the process for Zimbabwe’s readmission in the Commonwealth — a grouping of former British colonies.
This suffered a major blow early this month when soldiers killed protesters in Harare.