The country’s political environment is “very polarised” owing to an intransigent and militant MDC party, which largely perceives its political rivals as mortal enemies, while the continued outpouring of negative press – especially from local media houses – is militating against foreign investments, a top diplomat has said.
Indian Ambassador to Zimbabwe Mr Rungsung Masakui told The Sunday Mail in an interview that political parties are necessarily expected to forge a united front after the bitter contestation that comes with elections, which was unfortunately not the case in Zimbabwe after the July 30 plebiscite.
It is unconscionable, he added, that the MDC should continue regarding the Zanu-PF Government as illegitimate after last year’s “open” and “commendable” electoral process.
“I find it (the political environment) very polarised. Political rivals are not enemies: if ruling party and opposition party consider themselves enemies, that is a clear sign of going in the wrong direction. In India we just had elections, the kind of words exchanged during debates were very intense, but once the elections are over, that’s it. . .
“But here it is totally different. Yes, all political parties have the right to contest the results in a court of law, and this was done. There is a provision in the Constitution outlining how to address that dissatisfaction of the results and it was done. But after going to the Constitutional Court, the court made its ruling in the full view of a global audience following the proceedings. When the court makes its ruling, why can’t they just respect that? It is unthinkable that after the court makes a final ruling, the opposition party continues to fight the legitimacy issue again and again, yet they have accepted to work in Parliament,” said Ambassador Masakui.
He said notwithstanding inherent political differences, political parties had to come together “when it comes to fundamental issues of nation-building”.
MDC’s decision to shun the Government-led national dialogue in favour of engaging Western countries was also questioned.
Ambassador Masakui added: “The President (Emmerson Mnangagwa) is making efforts to create dialogue platforms with the opposition parties, it’s a way forward. But it is difficult for the dialogue to succeed if the main opposition party is not part of it. The space is there for them to join in – the President even formally recognised the office of the opposition party leader . . . that is what is happening world over . . . The ruling party here is making all efforts to move forward, but the opposition party does not want to negotiate – they are going out to the UK and the US and negotiating with them, I don’t know how that is a way forward. I don’t know how other people can come here and solve your problems.”
The negative headlines that are consistently being churned out by the local media for both local and global audiences is creating a contrived perception that is not conducive for foreign direct investment, he said.
The Indian Ambassador indicated that private investors, Shadar Group of Hospitals, who are currently making efforts to operationalise Ekusileni Hospital in Bulawayo, were initially reluctant to sink funds into the venture, opting to contribute their skills and expertise only, but they have since made a commitment to invest after their own experiences on the ground.
Furthermore, Apollo Hospitals, a super specialty hospital in India, is reportedly scouting for opportunities to invest in Harare.
“The Shadar Group initially said they won’t bring in any funding, but now they are ready to inject money into the project. This is about perception. The last three years, what I have been struggling with is a negative perception about Zimbabwe, which is created by external forces out of the country and even from within, if you see your media. The negative perceptions are generated on a daily basis, they (things being written in the media locally) are not staying here; they are spreading out of the country as well,” explained Ambassador Masakui.
Indo-Zim relations date back to the pre-colonial area.
The world’s sixth-largest economy is also supporting the country’s endeavour to rejoin the Commonwealth.