By Robert Tapfumaneyi
The MDC and its breakaway party say they were ready to embrace President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Tuesday call for national dialogue but quickly warned the Zanu-PF leader must be sincere about his overtures.
Mnangagwa returned from a weeklong trip abroad to find a dejected nation smarting from an orgy of violence which rocked Harare, Bulawayo and parts of the country during last week’s protests over fuel price increases.
The situation was further ruined by a heavy handed reaction by security forces in scenes that left 12 dead, dozens injured, hundreds further arrested while property estimated to be in millions of dollars was both destroyed and looted.
While condemning the skirmishes, Mnangagwa also urged dialogue within the country’s hugely divided society.
“I invite leaders of all political parties as well as religious and civil leaders to set aside our differences and come together,” said the President via his Twitter account.
“What unites us is stronger than what could ever divide us. Let’s begin a national dialogue. Let’s put the economy first. Let’s put the people.”
Mnangagwa’s comments were a surprise departure from his earlier position he had no time for talks with the opposition as he was enjoying the mandate granted to him through recent elections.
The Zimbabwean leader was however not clear on whether his call for dialogue should be structured along a transitional authority path as demanded by the main wing MDC.
Responding to the Zanu PF leader’s position, MDC-T vice president Obert Gutu said his party was prepared to play its part towards ensuring that the country was restored on a path to both stability and prosperity.
“Dialogue has got to be genuine and broad-based, all political parties, business people, religious leaders, labour, civic society and students organisations all have got a very important role to play in the proposed national dialogue,” Gutu told NewZimbabwe.com Tuesday.
“Fundamentally therefore, national dialogue shouldn’t be construed as the preserve for politicians only.
“Zimbabwe’s challenges are indeed, multi-faceted and as such, all stakeholders have got to be taken on board.”
On his part, MDC President Nelson Chamisa quickly warned the Zanu PF leader to walk the talk, as opposed to making statements that were not supported by his actions.
“Our solution to the crisis requires sincerity, honesty and compassion for those we lead,” Chamisa said.
“It is not about lofty words or wordplay unsupported by conduct on the ground.
“We’ve long offered a hand to resolve our national challenges. Regrettably this hand has been spurned and mocked.”
Chamisa said it was sad that his Zanu PF rivals were beginning to realise the importance of national dialogue when lives had been lost.
“It doesn’t have to be that way but such is the price of arrogance,” he said.
“When people die, we come together and mourn together. We console the bereaved & show compassion. Leaders console, comfort and apologise for wrongs that they have done.
“It is not the time for a catalogue of excuses, explanations or justifications. We must show respect to Zimbabweans.”