Prospects for dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa now hang by the thread in spite of attempts by western power brokers to get them to smoke a peace pipe, the Daily News reported.
Mnangagwa is presently under pressure to strike a deal with Chamisa to end political tensions inflamed by the closely-fought July 30 plebiscite in which the Zanu-PF leader edged his nemesis by a razor-thin margin.
The European Union and Britain have particularly been linked to behind-the-scenes manoeuvres to get Mnangagwa to recognise Chamisa as the official opposition leader in order to placate the youthful politician who is refusing to accept the poll outcome.
While Mnangagwa, who is currently in the United States – attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York – has revealed that he is ready to accept Chamisa as the official opposition leader, his rival has rejected the arrangement, throwing the whole plan into disarray.
Justice minister Ziyambi Ziyambi had already indicated that once the two leaders have hammered a deal, the country's Constitution would need to be amended to give Chamisa a role in the legislative assembly.
Following Mnangagwa's pronouncements, Chamisa has come up with a plethora of conditions he says the Zanu-PF leader should first meet before any engagements take place.
Describing Mnangagwa's offer as mafia-style, and an attempt to buy him with a few pieces of silver, Chamisa said his bitter rival must first accept that he is an "illegitimate leader".
The former student leader said, through his spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda, that he declines Mnangagwa's offer as it is an attempt to bribe him into accepting results of a "sham election".
"He (Chamisa) despises the Mafia-coloured politics where the gang leader thinks that all problems are solved by the parcelling of perks and positions. Zimbabwe is bigger than people who believe that they can abuse State coffers to corruptly buy the presidency they lost in an election. This mentality is simply old school for our times it is unrecognisable in this century," said Sibanda.
The five key issues Chamisa wants to discuss with Mnangagwa include ensuring that future elections are safeguarded so that they are held in a transparent manner and can never be disputed again, that there are moves to ensure the country returns to legitimacy and normalcy following what the opposition claims was a stolen July 30 election.
The opposition leader also wants to have dialogue centred around the economy to avert a complete meltdown.
The fourth issue is around national healing, starting from the Gukurahundi massacres to the August 1 shootings.
The MDC Alliance leader also wants measures put in place to allow constitutional Chapter 12 and 13 institutions — the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission, Zimbabwe Anti-Corruption Commission and the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission, among others, — to have complete independence without undue influence from political players.
On this point, he includes implementation of devolution in full.
Yesterday, Zanu-PF responded by describing Chamisa as childish as prospects for dialogue between the two parties fizzle out due to the contentious issue of legitimacy.
Zanu-PF secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana said Mnangagwa has gone out of his way like a true statesman to engage his rival but they will not force "crybabies" into negotiations.
"We can't force them to behave to be normal people, the president will continue to handle the situation like a true and mature statesman, it's up to them to behave as normal opposition or crybabies, our president is a statesman, he is a leader, unfortunately we have that kind of opposition who are sore losers but that will not stop the country from running, we will not lose sleep over sore losers," said Mangwana.
Political observers told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa, who is battling to revive the country's economy through wooing investors to Zimbabwe, must accommodate Chamisa otherwise his efforts to reengage the world will fail.
Professor of World Politics at the London School of Oriental and African Studies Stephen Chan said Mnangagwa should match his rhetoric with action.
"Everyone is also waiting for concrete results to emerge in his policies that suggest he is serious in his fine words. This includes stabilising the economy and relations with the International Monetary Fund, some sense of capacity to deal with the cholera outbreak and, above all, achieving a guaranteed space for the opposition to do its work of questioning and opposing government policy at both the legislative and local levels," said Chan.
Crisis Coalition director Piers Pigou also said Mnangagwa is under pressure to accommodate the opposition.
"Many eyes will be on Emmerson Mnangagwa, especially to hear how he intends to build on the general commitments he had made with respect to economic reform and addressing political polarisation," said Pigou.