Political parties that participated in the July 2018 harmonised elections met yesterday and appointed chairman of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) Justice Selo Nare and chairperson of the Gender Commission, Margaret Sangarwe Mkahanana, as co-chairs of National Dialogue.
At least 18 parties attended the meeting at State House in Harare.
Briefing the media after the meeting, President Mnangagwa said the parties adopted recommendations made by thematic committees and a launch of the actual dialogue will be held in the first week of May.
The meeting and dialogue of political parties is part of President Mnangagwa’s broad-based approach towards nation-building and national healing, which will see Zimbabweans finding each other on the national question.
“We had very serious and focused discussions this morning with the heads of political parties. All together we were 18. We have resolved that the question of moderator or convenor shall be two; the chairperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Justice Selo Nare and the chairperson of the Gender Commission, Margaret Sangarwe Mkahanana, will be the other co-chair of the dialogue,” he said.
“We have agreed on the programmes that the three committees have recommended.
“We have adopted the recommendations they have made between now and the launch which is going to happen during the first week of May. These committees are going to put content into the launch for the actual dialogue on issues that we have identified.
“So we are happy that we are moving together with the rest of the political parties, except one or two who have not, but we and other political parties constitute the majority of the people in this country. If you put our vote Zanu PF and that of the others the six percent, two percent, one percent we are over 60 percent.”
President Mnangagwa said he was happy that the parties agreed as Zimbabweans that they should sit together to interrogate the challenges the country is facing.
He said the political leaders had also suggested that it was necessary to visit the victims of Cyclone Idai together and demonstrate that when a disaster of that nature strikes, Zimbabweans can rise and demonstrate their concern together.
“We have agreed that in the course of next week all the political parties participating in dialogue shall all be brought together to visit affected areas in Chimanimani and Chipinge. I think this is a very good idea.”
Justice Nare said political parties would be required to submit two names, a male and a female, of their representatives to the dialogue coordinating committee by Tuesday next week.
Meanwhile, the most loved opposition leader Nelson Chamisa has stuck to his guns refusing to take part in the so-called National Dialogue citing insincerity on the part of the Zanu PF strongmen.
At least five opposition political parties, which initially joined the discussions, have pulled out, accusing the President of having dirty hands.
Violet Mariyacha, leader of the less known United Democracy Movement (UDM), this week became the fifth party to walk out of the talks following Nkosana Moyo’s Alliance of People’s Agenda (APA), Daniel Shumba’s United Democratic Alliance and Noah Manyika’s Build Zimbabwe Alliance, as well as People’s Progressive Party of Zimbabwe, led by Timothy Chiguvare.
The parties accuse Mnangagwa of insincerity, saying the talks would not amount to anything as long as MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa was not part of the initiative.
Moyo announced APA would stay out of the talks because they were saddened by recent statements made by Mnangagwa at a Zanu-PF rally in Masvingo.
“We observed with dismay as he (Mnangagwa) spoke in the most unpresidential manner, among other things bragged about having deployed the army that as we know killed people,” APA said.
“More worrisomely, he openly threatened that anyone, who according to him, engaged in acts of disorderliness would have their life shortened.”
Moyo said such statements by Mnangagwa did not show any seriousness in building bridges in the politically-volatile Zimbabwe, ravaged by two rounds of State-sponsored violence since the July 2018 elections.
APA said without Zanu-PF and MDC Alliance in the same room, the talks would not yield anything and were, thus, a waste of time.
“Zanu-PF and MDC-A must be present. Let us recall the official voting statistics at presidential level, ED 50,6%, NC 44,3% (and the) rest 4,9%. If the idea of national dialogue is to try and bring the nation to a place of cohesion, then it should be self-evident that a platform that excludes either Zanu-PF or MDC-A cannot be considered as a serious undertaking towards creating national cohesion,” Moyo said.
Chiguvare wrote to Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, saying he would not be taking part in the national dialogue.
“We would like to wish the nation a fruitful dialogue and hope to partake in future national events,” he said in the letter dated February 21.
Already, Joice Mujuru’s National People’s Party has snubbed the talks, saying unless they were convened at a neutral place by an independent convener, they viewed them as inconsequential.
Chamisa has been brawling with Mnangagwa ever since he narrowly lost the hotly-disputed July 30 presidential election — whose result he vigorously challenged at the Constitutional Court (Con-Court).
The youthful opposition leader even went to the extent of accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of manipulating the poll results in favour of the Zanu PF leader.
But Mnangagwa’s victory was upheld by the Con-Court, which ruled that Chamisa had failed to provide evidence that he had won the election.
In the meantime, Mnangagwa and his government are battling to turn around the country’s sickly economy.
As a result, Zimbabwe is now in the throes of a mega economic crisis which has resulted in much suffering and anger among citizens who accuse the government of introducing a raft of measures which have further burdened them instead of alleviating their pain.