Renowned political analyst Ibbo Mandaza believes President Emmerson Mnangagwa should swallow his pride and engage MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa to settle the deepening political crisis in the country.
Mandaza (IM), who is one of the prominent people in the country pushing for a National Transitional Authority (NTA), to pull Zimbabwe out of its multifaceted crisis, told our acting news editor Everson Mushava (EM) that the situation in the country pointed to the fact that Mnangagwa’s Political Actors dialogue (Polad) was a waste of time.
He said denials by government that Zimbabwe was in a crisis were unsustainable as the growing condemnation of human rights violations in the country and South African President Cyril Ramamphosa’s decision to send special envoys showed consensus that the country’s political problems were getting out of control.
Mandaza said the response by the international community showed that there was a deep-rooted crisis in Zimbabwe that needed an urgent solution.
Mnangagwa’s government insists that there is a no crisis in Zimbabwe and accuses the opposition of faking abductions and torture of activists to soil the image of the country.
Mandaza, however, said the denials were “a defence by people who have failed, who are weak, vulnerable and helpless”. Below is the interview.
EM: What do you make of the political situation in the country?
IM: Things are not good, they are tense.
We have a crisis like never before, notwithstanding the denials by Emmerson Mnangagwa and his lieutenants that there is no crisis in the country.
Things on the ground speak for themselves that we have a huge crisis – abductions, torture stories, unwarranted arrests and even the story of a young (Noxolo Maphosa) being tailed in South Africa by Zimbabwe state agents, the dramas at court, all point to a deep-rooted crisis.
The response of the international community such as the African Union, European Union, diplomats from Western countries also points to an admission that there is a crisis in the country.
Denials by the Zimbabwean government now look ridiculous and foolish.
The decision by South African President Cyril Ramaphosa to deploy envoys to Harare shows an admission that something is wrong.
The coverage of SABC on Zimbabwe has also exposed the crisis.
EM: What do you think is motivating Mnangagwa and his ruling Zanu-PF to deny that there is a crisis in the country?
IM: To admit that there is a crisis means admitting to failure.
One wonders their next narrative from Zanu-PF because denials have failed.
Denials are a defence by people who have failed, who are weak, vulnerable and helpless.
EM: So you mean denials will not be a viable escape route for Mnangagwa?
IM: ED (Mnangagwa) has to move to another stage.
He has to accept that things are not well in the country and engage those countries that are willing to support, like South Africa.
Zimbabwe needs a political settlement like yesterday, Mnangagwa is a besieged man, and he has a lot of pressure from his party.
There is an implosion in Zanu-PF.
Mnangagwa is also facing external pressure from within the country and outside.
EM: Often described as the cunning crocodile, with a bag of tactics to upset his opponents, do you see Mnangagwa making his way out of this?
IM: He can come out of this if he admits there is a crisis and accept mediation from supporting countries like South Africa and others.
Abductions, torture, unwarranted arrests, among others, are indications of a regime on a decline.
It is a sign that things are not good.
There is need for him to engage and someone surely should be able to bring him to his senses.
There is no way this country can recover economically if it does not recover politically first.
He should dialogue with neighbours, which I think is already happening behind the scenes.
EM: You talk of the need to talk to neighbouring countries, do you think this will succeed if he is not dialoguing with stakeholders within the country?
IM: We have a reached a point where African outsiders can press Mnangagwa to talk to his fellow Zimbabweans.
His approach that other political stakeholders can only talk to him through Polad will not work.
We need to talk among ourselves, that is the mission by the Ramaphosa envoy.
South Africa is well aware that the problems in Zimbabwe are also their problems and now, it says a lot when Zimbabwe security agents chase human rights defenders at their doorstep.
There is need for talks. They can start informally and I believe we are in that process.
EM: There is confusion on the subject of mediation. Some think talks should be there only to force Mnangagwa to stop abductions. Others say there should be change of administration. What do you think the talks should aim to achieve?
IM: First, the talks should be there to stop abductions, abuse of courts and an end to punitive measures against those already detained in unsafe places, among others.
All these should stop. Human rights should be respected.
Second, the talks should force a political settlement. The MDC Alliance insists Mnangagwa stole the 2018 elections. This means there is a legitimacy crisis.
The electoral dispute should be solved and there is need for compromise for a transitional authority.
This should be done by bringing together a group of people, who are non-partisan. Mnangagwa and Chamisa should support the initiative.
That will also put in place an amnesty arrangement so that past violations such as Gukurahundi, Murambatsvina, among others, should be addressed.
We cannot go on a revenge spree. Those implicated should take responsibility and compensate the victims.
Thirdly, the economic side should be addressed.
This can be done by implementing political reforms so that the country can attract capital injection.
The country needs to recover economically, and this can only be done by solving the political problems.
The diaspora should be part of the process.
EM: You talked of the National Transitional Authority (NTA). Would that not be a violation of the constitution?
IM: We had the government of national unity in the past and it was approved by Parliament.
The problems in Zimbabwe are not legal impediments, but political. If Mnangagwa and Chamisa support that, we are done.
EM: The NTA means changes to the executive, if I get you right, what will be the fate of MPs?
IM: The MPs will remain, all the recalled MPs should be back in Parliament because they were elected by the people.
The transitional authority should report to Parliament, the speaker of Parliament.
The judiciary will remain, but must be reformed.
Parliament will continue with an oversight role over the authority, and thus Parliament will be central to the process of reform.
EM: Do you think the military will accept any arrangement that will threaten the rule by Zanu-PF a party in which they are obviously stockholders?
IM: They will have no choice; they will have to accept the arrangement. The country cannot continue to be ruled by force.
They are also keen to have the country return to constitutionalism so that they return to the barracks.
EM: If the military is to support a transitional authority, whom do you see as a stumbling block to talks towards that?
IM: The main person is Mnangagwa, he has to swallow his pride and accept the arrangement.
We know some of his lieutenants are in support of it.
They know people are suffering and there is no economic settlement without a political settlement.
— The Standard