POLITICAL parties taking part in the Political Actors Dialogue that was launched yesterday said the platform offered Zimbabweans an opportunity to discuss pertinent issues affecting the country.
The leaders said this while addressing at least 5 000 people who thronged the Harare International Conference Centre for the ceremony.
President Emmerson Mnangagwa initiated the dialogue to foster unity, peace and development in the country.
In her address, MDC-T president Ms Thokozani Khupe said the dialogue would put ordinary people first.
"This dialogue is not top-up in approach but a bottom-up approach. It's not about President Mnangagwa or Khupe of Professor Madhuku but about Zimbabweans," she said.
"We may belong to different political parties but we have the same aspirations. Differing is healthy but let it not make us to fight. I thank the parties for putting their heads on the block despite the efforts of prophets of doom. His Excellency the President said all the political parties had their visions and he said he had this desire for us to share these visions and I would like to say thank you your Excellency. I want to thank you for believing that Zimbabwe is bigger than an individual or political party. This is just the beginning of a long journey; it's not an event but a process."
National Constitutional Assembly president Professor Lovemore Madhuku said they would address governance issues during the dialogue.
"The dialogue will be focusing on how best we can run our country. Every Zimbabwean has an idea on how best we can run our country. In this platform, we will be asking all Zimbabweans 'what do you think is the best way to run the country'," he said.
People's Democratic Party leader Lucia Matibenga said the dialogue was not about elections but development.
"The elections came and went and the winners were announced. This dialogue is not about any other thing but is about development," she said.
Trust Chikohora of the Coalition of Democrats said: "Our economy is haemorrhaging with serious foreign currency shortages, high inflation and the economy is not growing and is threatening to go into a recession. So it means as Zimbabweans we need to come together to address these challenges."
He also called on the country to re-engage with the international community and called for the removal of sanctions.
"In this vein, I must be very clear that sanctions must go. All of us as political leaders must say sanctions must go."
Nesbert Mutengezanwa of the United African National Council said dialogue was about ordinary Zimbabweans.
"This dialogue is important and is not about us, but about the people. So let's be leaders and not rulers by putting people first," Mr Mutengezanwa said.
United Democratic Movement leader Mr Peter Mapfumo said the dialogue would also address ways to prevent youths from being used by politicians.
Ms Melba Dzepasi of the #1980 Freedom Movement of Zimbabwe said the dialogue was open to everyone, including those that took part in parliamentary and council elections and "not limited to presidential candidates".
Independent candidate Mr Brian Mteki thanked President Mnangagwa for creating the dialogue platform.
"It's not by right that we are here but by privilege from His Excellency. We would like to thank you that you saw it fit that Zimbabwe is not for party politics but for everyone," said Mr Mteki.
Mr Divine Hove of the National Alliance of Patriotic and Democratic-Republicans said: "What we have done is to bring down walls of hating each other by finding ways to talk to each other. There is no need for us to fight one another."
Engineer Peter Munyanduri president of the New Patriotic Front said the dialogue should address issues around industrialisation, value addition and increase in capacity utilisation, and the "removal of sanctions".
Mr Andrew Peter Wilson of the Democratic Opposition Party said the issue of the local currency should be addressed during the dialogue.
"We don't need a new currency at the moment. We should look at the fundamentals first because peoples' savings are being eroded. This dialogue provides a basis for the creation of a sustainable currency. With this current situation, Zanu-PF cannot do it alone; that's why we need everyone to come on board including those that are not on board at the moment," he said.