MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has vowed he is “ready to lead Zimbabwe out of crisis”, telling President Emmerson Mnangagwa to come to the negotiating table and “resolve all hanging political issues.”
The economic crisis deepened over the weekend, with critical drugs, fuel and wheat in short supply. A new 2 percent tax on all electronic transactions announced by the Finance Minister on October 1 started a domino ramping-up of prices for goods and services across the entire economy.
A directive by the Reserve Bank to banks to separate foreign currency accounts from the local RTGS accounts has dramatically devalued the bond note. Rights groups are preparing to go to court to contest both policy pronouncements.
Chamisa said the economic crisis, which has its genesis in a disputed election on July 30, was the symptom of a crisis of legitimacy.
The crisis would only end, he said, when all Zimbabweans were speaking to the international community with one voice, and this required Mnangagwa to come to the negotiating table.
“There’s no way we’re going to allow the kind of nonsense that’s taking place to go on unchecked and also uncontested. We’re seeing that an anti-people government is coming up with anti-people policies, which policies are meant to hurt the ordinary people. We’ll not accept that,” Chamisa told eNCA over the weekend.
He dismissed the 2 percent tax as “dubious”, charging that Zimbabweans were at the mercy of a “criminal syndicate”.
“We need to return our country to legitimacy and resolve all the hanging political issues around governance, around elections so that that chapter is understood and we respect the will of the people,” Chamisa, who has refused to concede defeat to Mnangagwa, added.
The 40-year-old MDC leader has not stated what their “return to legitimacy” demand entails, but he left room for direct talks with Mnangagwa, who desperately needs the MDC’s support to unlock financial bailouts from Western countries who are wary of Zimbabwe’s new rulers.
Chamisa went on: “We have a perspective, of course Zanu PF will have their own perspective but we want to have a consensus on how to move this country forward.
“Whatever (election) result you look at, Mr Mnangagwa does not have 50 percent of the people, we bring the other 50 percent even on the basis of the disputed election result.
“We need to open dialogue among ourselves, to create a platform, so that there’s a consensus on what we’re sharing with the international community around issues of debt, around issues of measures (sanctions) that have been placed on our country and how we move our country forward. It requires a collective position, Mr Mnangagwa can’t do it alone. We need a national, broad consensus.”
Mnangagwa has floated a proposal for official recognition of the leader of the opposition in Parliament, while state media speculated on Sunday that Chamisa wanted to be Prime Minister in a power sharing arrangement.
“We’ve heard him talk about official recognition for the opposition leader but that’s not a dialoguing point, this is not about individuals, it’s about institutions. This is not about personalities, it’s about ideas and issues that will move our country forward… we need fundamental reforms economically, politically and constitutionally. The issue is bigger than just a position for individuals, it’s about a proposition that’s good for the country and we need a national narrative,” Chamisa said.
Such a dialogue will set time-bound political and constitutional reforms as well as draw up an economic rescue plan agreed by all parties.
His party was prepared to call a nationwide shutdown to bring Zanu PF to the negotiating table, he warned.
“Dialogue is always the first price for people who want to unite the nation to move forward. We’re not dialoguing because we’re in a weak position, we’re dialoguing because we believe that all nations are built on the foundation of dialogue. Even if we are to say we will confront Zanu PF, after confrontation there has to be a table, so if you’re able to get the table sooner than the confrontation, sooner than the protest in the street, the better,” the MDC leader said.
He said if Mnangagwa and Zanu PF ignored his invitation to talk, they would “take the long route, which obviously entails peaceful demonstrations causing them to see the logic of unity, the logic and sense of peace, the logic and sense of progressive politics.”
The MDC’s doors were open, he said, adding: “We’ve even opened the windows now. Why? Because the nation is suffering. Why? Because there are issues that are unresolved politically, the people are divided. The people have genuine concerns about the future. That is my headache as a leader, I need to make sure those issues are resolved. We need both hands to tackle the magnitude of this problem. One hand will not suffice.”
Mnangagwa has previously said his door was open to Chamisa, stating after his inauguration that his arms were “outstretched” to his youthful rival. But Chamisa says he does not believe the 76-year-old Zanu PF strongman is sincere.
“If his doors are open, then he must walk out of those and locate our doors which are also open. We can’t go to his doors because they’re locked. We’ve looked around, he says the doors are open but we see that the doors are locked. We were waiting for him to articulate an agenda in Parliament that would unlock this thing but he did not.”