PRESIDENT Mnangagwa has criticised the penchant for confrontation and violence by some opposition party elements, saying such a strategy leads to destruction and is against the national interest.
Speaking to journalists soon after getting his first Covid-19 jab in the resort town of Victoria Falls Wednesday, where he also officially launched the second phase of national mass vaccination programme, the President advised opposition party leaders to anchor their political persuasions on patriotism.
The term patriotism refers to strong attachment and love to one’s country and encompasses devotion and robust support for the nation, which also embodies sacrifice and protecting its honour.
However, in Zimbabwe opposition politics, mainly led by the MDC formations, have in recent years been punctuated by violent confrontations against the Government that have led to destruction of private property and loss of lives.
The opposition also stands accused for lobbying for imposition of sanctions against the country, with adverse impact on efforts to turn around the economy.
Unlike in the past, where opposition party leaders used to boycott national events, the Wednesday launch in Victoria Falls was unique in that 16 other party leaders, including MDC-T leader Mr Douglas Mwonzora and National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Professor Lovemore Madhuku, attended.
The political party leaders not only joined the President in getting their Covid-19 doses but also publicly encouraged the masses to follow suit and called for national cohesion towards development.
“It is normal for us to have different persuasions but that should not lead us to be destructive in our country,” said President Mnangagwa.
“I was happy to hear satisfaction and expression of political ideas from a leader of the opposition party (Douglas Mwonzora), because most of them are confrontational, violent and unpatriotic.
“But this breed of nationalism is rare and you hope that it will inspire some.”
President Mnangagwa said his administration was open for frank dialogue with any political formation as long as it was in pursuit on the national interest, hence the establishment of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), a platform for political parties that fielded presidential candidates in the 2018 harmonised elections to contribute to social, economic and political progress. The MDC-Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa has repeatedly spurned the opportunity.
“But of course, we already have several political parties in our discussions in Poland who have been contributing politically, socially and economically in our debates.
“But among the MDC groups, this (MDC-T led by Mwonzora) is the first group that has come out with refreshing ideas of being patriotic about their country,” said President Mnangagwa.
Speaking earlier on behalf of opposition parties at the event, Mr Mwonzora, delivered a captivating address in which he praised President Mnangagwa for inviting fellow political leaders to dialogue with him and witness the national Covid-19 mass vaccination launch. He also said the choice of starting with Victoria Falls makes sense because everybody across the political divide stands for the economic development of Zimbabwe. MDC Alliance accuses him of working with Zanu PF to destroy real opposition in Zimbabwe.
Mr Mwonzora said the pandemic was both a national and international emergency and, therefore, it has to be completely depoliticized, which is why opposition political leaders were part of the proceedings together with the ruling party, Zanu-PF.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has devastated the world and economies and has affected livelihoods and culture of various communities across the world. It affects our tourism and this is a tourist hub of the world so it is befitting that citizens of Victoria Falls are vaccinated as we call upon our people to be vaccinated.
“We want to resuscitate our economy and take our place as the commercial and economic hub of the African continent whose development trajectory leaves no one behind,” said Mr Mwonzora.
“We have adopted a new philosophy, a new way of doing our politicisms. We must be guided by what is in the best interests of our people.
It must be the Zimbabweans first and our political self-aggrandisement second.
“We urge a new politics in this country, gone are the days of politics of acrimony, violence, hate and intolerance. We want to substitute this with the politics of rational disputation and tolerance.
“You are because I am, I am because you are. We urge all Zimbabweans to accept vaccination because this is the only viable option available. Those sceptical should learn from other countries where leaders of different nations are being vaccinated,” said Mr Mwonzora.
Meanwhile, President Mnangagwa has declared today as the President’s Special National Day of Thanksgiving for the good rains recorded in the country and an anticipated bumper harvest.
The day will also be used to give thanks for the peace, unity and harmony the country continues to enjoy as well as visible rewards to the Government’s efforts to rebuild, modernise and industrialise the country.
The main event will be held at the State House in Harare where the President will be joined by various religious leaders and faith-based organisations and will be broadcast live on ZBC-TV, ZTN, local radio stations and other virtual platforms.
The President’s Special National Day of Thanksgiving follows the President’s invitation to church leaders in June last year for a National Day of Fasting.
“Since then, we have as a Nation, through divine intervention and God-given wisdom, witnessed our fortunes take an undeniable turn for the better. Although we mourn every life lost through the Covid-19 pandemic, we are thankful for the continued mercies, grace and favour which the Almighty God has bestowed upon our great Nation,” said President Mnangagwa.
He said as the country today comes together before God in thanksgiving, he is inspired by the Book of Daniel, Chapter 4: Verses 2 -3 which read, “It is my pleasure to tell you about the miraculous signs and wonders that the Most High God has performed for (us). How great are His signs! How mighty are His wonders! His kingdom is an eternal kingdom! His dominion endures from generation to generation.”
“I therefore, invite fellow countrymen and women, both at home and abroad, individuals, families, groups, workplaces, churches and all other institutions, to a special National Thanksgiving Service from 10am to 1pm,” said President Mnangagwa.