IT is sad President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa have decided to continue bickering and politicking at the expense of the millions of Zimbabweans who are bearing the brunt of a wonky economy.
Churches have been trying to bring the two to the negotiating table, to end the political paralysis gripping the country. So the story reported by this publication on Tuesday that the proposed talks between the two have collapsed make a sad reading.
Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) has been trying to bring Mnangagwa and Chamisa, who were the main contenders in the July 30 poll, to the negotiating table, but despite both of them insisting they were ready to dialogue, they remain far apart.
Chamisa has rejected Mnangagwa’s victory despite the Constitutional Court (ConCourt) throwing out his petition challenging the result and has since maintained that he won the election, frequently calling his rival “illegitimate”.
Mnangagwa has reportedly offered an olive branch to his nemesis, saying he has “a vital role to perform in Zimbabwe’s future” and proposed an official Westminster style “Leader of Opposition” post in Parliament for his rival to be part of the national discourse, but insists that Chamisa must recognise his Presidency.
ZCC secretary-general Kenneth Mtata Monday said none of the parties seemed ready to compromise.
“Our hope is that political expediency will not jeopardise the possibility of fruitful dialogue. The challenges are not secret at all. They are open for everyone. The first issue is that the MDC (Alliance) leader has not yet accepted the officially announced results of the election, even after the verdict of the ConCourt,” Mtata said.
The ZCC secretary-general suggested Chamisa was held up by a need to appease his supporters, while Mnangagwa wanted recognition from the opposition leader first before any talks could begin.
Many people had hoped that the talks between the two antagonising figures would bring an end to the issue of political illegitimacy that is stalking the country and make work to turn around the country's economic fortunes a lot easier.
Mnangagwa is the leader of the country and he definitely needs the legitimacy to run the country more than anything else. Elections alone cannot guarantee him the legitimacy he needs without the endorsement of the opposition so that the country can pull in one direction.
Mnangagwa should stop trying to act like he is invisible. His electoral victory was narrow and he should admit that Chamisa also has a great following and therefore needs the goodwill of opposition supporters to make his life at the top relatively easy. Man's bravado when your backyard is burning will also act as a catalyst for political upheaval and thus will make Mnangagwa's tenure very short-lived.
Although Chamisa might not have the solutions to the economic problems the country is facing, the international community, which Mnangagwa is luring by his "Zimbabwe is open for business" mantra, will only come to invest in a country where there is political consensus to guarantee security of their investment.
Otherwise, whatever Mnangagwa does without the nation pulling in one direction is a race to the horizon. He is the leader and he should initiate talks, and leave the habit of promising before an international audience what he will not do at home. International public relations stunts will not solve the problems back home, but words and actions do.
On the other hand, Chamisa should also stop making stringent demands that can jeopardise the prospects of the meeting between himself and his political nemesis. The meeting is not for themselves, it should be for the people who voted the two hoping for a better life.
The people are suffering and a meeting between the two to try to find common ground is indispensable. Chamisa should realise that the more the people struggle for a living, it will give Zanu PF, especially in the critical rural areas, more opportunities to appear as a messiah. Zanu PF has been winning using the Machiavellian style of impoverishing the people and later coming back dangling a solution.
Both Mnangagwa and Chamisa want to lead living citizens, not graves and there is need for both to be pragmatic, mature and put the people first. People are dying everyday of avoidable causes because they don't have foreign currency to access treatment. Prices are soaring to levels beyond many, and life has just become too difficult yet the elephant in the room is our toxic politics.
Can you two man up please before we lose this golden opportunity for peace, stability and economic prosperity.