President Mnangagwa says he is not averse to holding talks with MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa if the opposition leader recognises him as the legitimately-elected leader of the country.
The Head of State and Government — the ruling Zanu-PF presidential candidate in last year’s July 31 election — beat Mr Chamisa by a narrow 50.8 percent of the count to 44.3 percent, while Zanu-PF thrashed MDC-Alliance winning two-thirds of Parliamentary seats.
Zanu PF parliamentary candidates emerged more popular than their presidential candidate after they garnered more votes than Mnangagwa.
The results were confirmed by the Constitutional Court (Concourt), the highest arbitrator in the land, when Mr Chamisa queried the outcome, but the opposition leader has refused to acknowledge his loss. The electoral body reduced Mnangagwa’s win to 50,6 after Chamisa approached ConCourt.
In a wide-ranging interview with journalists from the private media on Wednesday, President Mnangagwa said his door has always been open to engage anyone the same way he has done with industry, church, students, traditional leaders, the disabled and progressive political parties.
President Mnangagwa also spoke on the recent violent demonstrations by ZCTU, Western countries’ continued interference in Zimbabwean affairs and his oft-sensationalised “rift” with Vice President Chiwenga.
The President said contrary to claims by MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa that he had written to him five times seeking dialogue, he was yet to see any correspondence.
“I have not seen any letter,” he said.
“I hear there are talks going on and this only in the media. I even have had to ask our party officials whether they have been in talks with the MDC behind my back. They are also surprised. I have never refused to talk and that is why after I came into office, you have seen me talking to all people from students, industry, the church, political parties and even traditional leaders. We continue to talk for the good of our country and my door is open. I, however, do not understand how he (Chamisa) would want to talk to me when he claims I am illegitimate. It implies that the talks will be illegitimate. I don’t want to see myself exchanging words with Chamisa, I don’t want to sink to that level. I leave all this to you.”
Soon after last year’s harmonised elections, President Mnangagwa was the first to call for dialogue but the MDC alliance spurned the opportunity, choosing to take the route of violent protests.
President Mnangagwa said it was unfortunate for Western countries to raise concern over the violent protests by MDC Alliance when they were the ones sponsoring the violence.
The demonstrations left six people, including a police officer dead, while property and cars worth millions were either burnt or destroyed.
President Mnangagwa said the intervention by the country’s security forces was ideal.
“We have been accused of using disproportionate force, but these protesters were burning down police stations and various infrastructure, including toll-gates along our highways,” he said.
“I am not sure how we were supposed to respond to that. Western countries, in particular, have raised concerns. Of course, we regret the loss of life, but we needed to protect property as well as other citizens not involved in the protests. We have told the Western countries that they cannot turn around and raise concerns when they are the ones sponsoring the violence.”
He added: “The army was reacting to restore order but you hear some saying its excessive force. The Western media wants to develop an image where developing countries are vilified, where they want to glorify the perpetrators of violence. You have to stop people who destroy properties. However, people just mention the reaction of the police and the army without looking at the perpetrators.”
Over 1 100 people have been arrested in connection with the protests and some have been convicted and jailed.
President Mnangagwa said the United States in particular wanted an administration which worked according to its dictates.
“They don’t care about human rights; that is why you find that they support some countries with clear democratic deficits,” he said.
“It’s about US interests and if we were pliable and accept to be used, our country would not be in these problems. The Western media also turn perpetrators of violence and destruction into victims. But they don’t show the destruction of property and direct threat to the stability of our country they caused.”
On the alleged divisions between him and VP Chiwenga, President Mnangagwa said: “The people who talk about these divisions, what example do they give? They have nothing to show for their claims. I have known Chiwenga since the struggle years. We are comrades and understand each other better than you all think. Somebody actually told me while I was in Eurasia that I would be barred from returning home and I just laughed that off.”
He also spoke about plans to introduce a local currency saying no “country can succeed without own currency.”