THE ruling Zanu-PF party is in a panic mode to ensure MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe does not pull out of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), a development which would throw President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government into open attacks from even his SADC fellow leaders.
President Mnangagwa has been preaching at Sadc meetings and even at the recently held African Union Summit in Ethiopia that Zimbabweans were holding their own dialogue process and hence there was no need for foreign mediation.
Last week, the European Union (EU) called for an all-encompassing dialogue process which includes main opposition MDC president Nelson Chamisa, but Government has been resisting the calls saying Chamisa must join the POLAD.
“If the POLAD collapses, as it about to happen should Khupe move ahead with her threats to dump the platform, that will open the President (Mnangagwa) to open tackles from regional leaders who want to see Zimbabwe’s disputes resolved,” a source told Zimbabwe Voice.
The panic in Zanu-PF was not helped when Khupe yesterday snubbed the platform’s meeting in Harare, apparently in protest over the way she was attacked by fellow partners in Bulawayo two weeks ago.
The source added that there was a stampede in the ruling party to save POLAD, with Paul Mangwana having already dispatched to look into Khupe’s grievances, as well as those of the other partners including National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Professor Lovemore Madhuku.
Madhuku this week warned he would have no option but to leave POLAD if the Government does not withdraw the Constitutional Amendment Bill gazetted by Justice minister, Ziyambi Ziyambi early this year.
Madhuku wants the POLAD to give its input into the Constitutional Amendment Bill gazetted in January as well as drive the narrative on electoral reforms ahead of the 2023 elections.
A constitutional law expert, Madhuku has previously declared that the entire Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) board would have been dissolved by 2023 with the influence of POLAD.
“Given that the recommendations on the Constitutional Amendment Bill are unanimous, a refusal by government will be a disbanding of POLAD. There will be no POLAD to talk about. Zanu-PF is part of POLAD. It runs the government. If it is sincere in being part to the POLAD recommendations, it has to influence the government to accept the POLAD position,” Madhuku said.
Speaking at yesterday’s POLAD economic summit, President Mnangagwa made a plea for all political players to resolve their differences and come together under POLAD.
“This event is unprecedented, and has been organised by political actors. I once again invite those Political Actors that have not joined this national discourse to join us,” he said.
Also absent at yesterday’s meeting which President Emmerson Mnangagwa and other POLAD partners attended, was Khupe’s spokesperson, Khaliphani Phugeni who is also the POLAD official spokesperson.
“Things are unravelling quite fast in the POLAD as the struggle for power and resources continue to take centre stage,” a POLAD insider revealed in an interview with Zimbabwe Voice.
“Khupe’s party officials, who lead most of the grouping’s subcommittees, feel their leader was ill-treated and harangued at the last meeting in Bulawayo two weeks ago, and there has been no deliberate effort by the offenders to ask for her forgiveness.
Zimbabwe Voice reported that Khupe stormed out of the Bulawayo meeting in tears as she under attack from most of the principals who “harassed” her and her colleagues. The POLAD principals asked why MDC-T party colleagues occupied most of the chairmanship or deputy positions including as rapporteurs in nearly every committee in POLAD.
“If this tension continues, it will boil over and one senior POLAD member will call it quits soon. This can happen even before you publish your article, as the tension has been so pronounced of late,” this reporter was told.
Another source close to the developments says that the pull-out by Khupe would put paid to Chamisa’s claims that the grouping had no teeth and was only being used by President Mnangagwa as a veneer against attacks that his government is not open for political reforms.
Paul Mangwana, who is the Zanu-PF point person in POLAD meetings, refused to comment on the developments.
Khupe’s spokesperson, Phugeni, was not reachable, while Khupe asked this publication to “find out why I didn’t attend from the POLAD Spokesperson,” who happens to be Phugeni himself.
— Zimbabwe Voice