President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora on Friday held their first formal meeting since the Manicaland senator became the government’s preferred leader of the opposition amid murmurs of disapproval from his party.
Some MDC-T leaders say Mwonzora kept them in the dark about the meeting held at State House in Harare.
Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga also attended the meeting that was curiously not covered by the state-controlled media, which usually follows Mnangagwa’s engagements with the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) religiously.
Polad is a platform where the president engages leaders of fringe political parties that took part in the 2018 presidential elections, including MDC-T.
Thokozani Khupe represented MDC-T in Polad before her ouster by Mwonzora in December last year.
The new MDC-T leader had said he would not take part in Polad meetings as he preferred broader dialogue to resolve Zimbabwe’s multiple political and economic problems.
Mwonzora yesterday told The Standard that he had gone to State House to pay a courtesy call on Mnangagwa.
“There were two things,” he said. “The thing was that I went to pay a courtesy call as leader of the opposition in Parliament to the president and head of state.
“The second one was to deliver the MDC’s concrete proposals for dialogue as I was instructed by the congress.
“The meeting was cordial and respectful.
“The president, who was accompanied by the vice-president undertook to reply to our proposals after which we would have formal discussions on the matter.”
He, however, refused to disclose the MDC-T’s proposals, saying he was waiting for Mnangagwa’s response.
“Currently I am not at liberty to disclose the proposals because they are yet to be responded to, but they were procedural matters as well as substantive matters,” he added.
A senior MDC-T official accused Mwonzora of going to State House clandestinely as the matter was never discussed during the party’s recent meetings.
“We are all asking ourselves what was really so important about this meeting, which was kept away from everyone,” the official said.
“Something could really be fishy here.”
But Mwonzora defended himself, saying he was mandated by the MDC-T national council to pursue dialogue with Mnangagwa.
He said some of his party’s leaders were not available for the meeting on Friday.
“Well, leaders of my party were away on parliamentary business,” the opposition leader claimed.
“This is criticism coming from people who have failed to execute their mandate.
“I was directed by the MDC national council to pursue dialogue for the benefit of the people of Zimbabwe and I did just that.”
Some Polad members are also unhappy that Mnangagwa is seemingly going back on his word not to hold any talks outside the controversial Polad platform.
“We did not have a meeting today and if what you are saying happened, it had nothing to do with Polad,” said a Polad member, who requested to remain anonymous.
“That then raises questions on why Mwonzora, if indeed he is keen to dialogue, would secretly meet Mnangagwa who is also a principal under Polad? What then is the role of Polad?
“We suspect there is an unholy alliance going on here and parallel arrangements are- coming up.
“We will wait and see, but this is not what we expected from the two. We expect people to be transparent and to do things in good faith.”
Information minister Monica Mutsvangwa referred questions about the meeting between Mnangagwa and Mwonzora to the president’s spokesperson George Charamba.
Charamba was not picking calls yesterday.
Mwonzora and MDC-T deny allegations that they are being used by Mnangagwa and Zanu PF to fight the mainstream MDC Alliance led by Nelson Chamisa.
The MDC Alliance says Zanu PF is using state institutions such as the courts and the police to aid MDC-T in its bid to position itself as the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.
— The Standard