President Emmerson Mnangagwa, has delayed announcing his Cabinet to give talks with youthful MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa a chance, highly-placed sources told the Daily News yesterday.
Zimbabwe has been without a Cabinet since August 26, when Mnangagwa took oath of office after a lengthy hiatus caused by Chamisa’s Constitutional Court application, challenging his electoral victory.
The only appointments he has so far made relate to his deputies, Constantino Chiwenga and Kembo Mohadi, who were reappointed last week.
Highly-placed sources told this publication yesterday that the Zanu PF leader, who has “out-stretched” his arms to Chamisa, was not rushing to appoint his Cabinet in the hope that the MDC Alliance leader would agree to working with him in some form of broad-based government.
This comes as the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) are said to be nudging protagonists in the Zimbabwe crisis to smoke a peace pipe to release pent-up pressures contributing to an on-going meltdown of the country’s economy.
Reports, which have not been denied by Brussels and Number 10 Downing Street, suggest that their diplomats are proposing an arrangement that mirrors the system in Britain, where the leader of the opposition and his chief whip are paid by the State.
As if to confirm this, a shadowy columnist in one of the State newspapers believed to be Mnangagwa’s spokesperson, George Charamba, has hinted that there could be behind the scenes negotiations for the two leaders to work together.
He said the administration was just waiting for Chamisa to cool down after losing the elections for meaningful talks to proceed.
“Looking in the crystal ball, much really depends on how soon and well the young man (Chamisa) recovers his poise so he merits the regard and package that awaits him from his winning rival.
“Far more than all of us, he stands to gain a great deal in the impending Second Republic, until now a blank concept and cheque needing some ink, pen and a steady scrawling hand, if Zimbabwe is to enter a new and mature phase in its national politics,” the columnist wrote.
The writer said a key paradoxical assignment for Mnangagwa was going to be one of drawing in and closer what he described as an immature and disloyal opposition, while not bringing them in by way of an inclusive government which no one in Zanu PF countenances at this stage.
“This needs great creativity, even greater courage, bearing in mind it is on this question that ED either stumbles or else over-leaps, the latter allowing him to lay an enduring basis for a lasting legacy. And once this puzzle is resolved, the challenges on the economy will be an easy run down the hill,” the columnist said.
Contacted for comment yesterday, Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo told the Daily News that the duty to appoint ministers was that of the president, adding that no one could be privy of how Mnangagwa was going to choose his Cabinet.
“You can ask the chief secretary in the office of the president, Dr Misheck Sibanda, because Cabinet appointments are a prerogative of the president. I don’t even expect the chief secretary to know, the rules of appointment are that it is the prerogative of the president,” Khaya Moyo said.
MDC Alliance national chairperson Morgen Komichi said he was not yet aware of any overtures from Mnangagwa.
“As far as I am concerned they have not yet approached us,” Komichi said.
Despite the denials, Chamisa has been mandated by his national council to engage in dialogue with all stakeholders in the local and international community.
Chamisa, however, said the dialogue will be anchored on five key issues, chief among them, the respect of the true election outcome, return to legitimacy and democracy and institution of electoral reforms for the conducting of free, fair and credible elections in the country.
He said dialogue will be around reviving the country’s economy.
Analysts believe it is important for the two parties to work together for the good of the country, as this creates great chances of improving the country’s economy.
Political analyst Stephen Chan said Western powers were eager to see an accommodation between Mnangagwa and Chamisa.
He said the delay in announcing Cabinet might also be linked to Mnangagwa’s need to balance the divisions within the ruling party.
Within his party, Chamisa has a number of forces to appease based on tribe, gender, other social inclusion factors, the military and war veterans.
“There are many factions in Zanu PF to be balanced, and it was never going to be just a contest between technocrats and military figures, or between some fabled new guard and the old guard. In any case, as far as I can see, there are few really able technocrats in Parliament. Bright and sensible people have all gone into business,” said Chan.
Maxwell Saungweme, another political analyst, said Mnangagwa was trying to manage people’s expectations, with high chances that he might work with Chamisa.
He said it was increasingly becoming clear to Chamisa and the alliance that Mnangagwa is the President and regardless of rigging claims Zimbabwe has to move on.
“I see Chamisa working with Mnangagwa soon under the guise of putting the country first. Otherwise politically it will be difficult for him to refuse to work with Mnangagwa given that he has MPs and local councils the alliance won,” said Saungweme.
“Whether he likes or not his party is definitely part of government. I think Mnangagwa is doing well in embracing him so that a win-win alternative is found instead of a winner take all. Chamisa has over two million votes and is difficult to ignore. But Mnangagwa is also the President and difficult to ignore for Chamisa”.
Political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said working together comes with its fair share of problems which might not be good for the country.
“While it may bode well for Zimbabwe that our political leaders find each other this may not resolve the fundamental contestations on electoral results hence a lack of trust within any GNU (Government of National Unity). I think the MDC and Zanu PF must simply agree on a politics of respect and rule of law,” he said.