The second session of the national dialogue with July 2018 presidential candidates at State House in Harare on Friday got off to a rocky start, with some candidates and their representatives walking out.
Some snubbed the event entirely for various reasons.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa, who did not attend the second session, set up the national dialogue to address the country’s socio-economic problems. The first meeting was on February 6, when four committees were set up.
The first committee was to focus on the institutional framework of the dialogue, while the second would deal with the agenda items for the dialogue. The third was going to determine the convenor of the dialogue, and the fourth would be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the agreed issues.
But Daniel Shumba’s United Democratic Alliance (UDA) withdrew from the second meeting because they were “insincere, choreographed, and a highly compromised process”.
In a statement, the UDA said: “We disagree with the process, purpose, issues and level of engagement. Clearly, no outcomes can be expected from this facade. The process starts with a predetermined agenda even before agreeing on the moderator, issues, or milestones. It’s inconsequential and of no effect.”
Noah Manyika’s Build Zimbabwe Alliance (BZA) also did not attend the second session, which the party said must produce a democratic, competent and integral governance outcome if done sincerely.
Manyika argued that the continued absence of the MDC Alliance – the biggest opposition party in the country – had had negative effect on the whole process.
“It is my position that any dialogue that does not include the MDC Alliance and other critical stakeholders will not pass the credibility test locally and globally,” he said.
With the meeting under way, deputy minister of information, publicity and broadcasting services Energy Mutodi claimed everything was smooth sailing without the MDC Alliance in attendance.
Commenting on the decision by Mr Shumba to walk out of the meeting, Presidential spokesperson Mr George Charamba said: “It is his democratic right to walk away from progress.”
Zanu-PF secretary for Legal Affairs Cde Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana and MDC-T vice president Mr Obert Gutu confirmed that they had a progressive meeting.
The dialogue is part of an expansive berth that President Mnangagwa has given to engage all stakeholders, including the Church and civil society, to confront the national question.