THE Zimbabwe Christian Alliance (ZCA) says President Emmerson Mnangagwa and main opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa need to swallow their pride and engage to resolve economic, political and social problems in the country.
BY TATENDA CHITAGU/OBEY MANAYITI/RUTENDO MATANHIKE
The call by the faith-based organisation comes in the aftermath of protests over fuel hikes which turned violent and were brutally quashed by the security forces, leaving 12 people dead and over 100 injured. Several women were also allegedly raped during the military crackdown.
Mnangagwa and Chamisa have agreed to talk, but have set conditions, which may hinder the dialogue.
But the ZCA, at an outreach programme at the St Peter and Paul Roman Catholic Church in Masvingo yesterday, said such back-and-fourth movements would not take Zimbabweans anywhere.
“Dialogue is good whenever there is a misunderstanding, but what is needed is sincerity from the politicians. We do not want dialogue where one of the parties is holding an axe in the hand. Both parties should sober up, swallow their pride and put people first, not their interests,” said ZCA secretary Reverend Kurauone Mutimwei.
“We expect the two politicians to drop all the conditions that are stalling the talks.”
Rev Sonnykiss Chimbuya, ZCA provincial co-ordinator said: “Political parties should listen to the voice from the church and do what is right for the people so that the country develops.”
Information ministry secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said Chamisa should first acknowledge Mnangagwa as the legitimate President of the country for talks to begin.
“President Mnangagwa can engage Chamisa anytime. The issue, which is not up for discussion, because it was resolved by the people of Zimbabwe, is who is the President of the republic, which brings up the issue of legitimacy,” he said.
“He is the President of the republic and Chamisa is the leader of the opposition. If those positions are established, and as Chamisa is a Zimbabwean, President Mnangagwa will engage with any Zimbabwean.”
Chamisa on Tuesday said his party was ready for dialogue with the ruling Zanu PF party on condition the talks were anchored on Mnangagwa’s unresolved legitimacy issue. He also called for the unconditional release of all political prisoners and for soldiers to go back to the barracks.
Deputy Chief Secretary in the Office of the President and presidential spokesperson, George Charamba, yesterday told CapiTalk 100.4FM radio station that Chamisa should accept Mnangagwa’s legitimacy before any dialogue could start.
Charamba said dialogue would include various interest groups, among them the youth, churches, businesspeople and all parties that contested in last year’s polls.
“We are also talking about discussions with the opposition. Go back to your statistics and remember the number of parties that participated in the July 30 harmonised elections,” he said.
“I hate a situation when the notion of opposition becomes synonymous with a person or one organisation. It means we must have a broad-based dialogue, except a precondition for dialogue is that the interlocutors must know each other, respect each other and give each other the status that they deserve.”
Charamba said it was Chamisa who desperately needed the dialogue, so he should not set preconditions, as he was “creating an acrimonious environment which doesn’t promote dialogue. Meanwhile, he needs dialogue more than anyone else”.
Charamba, however, admitted that things were tough in the country and that turning around the situation would be difficult.
“Things are tough and the most important thing to mention is that we are trying to recover an economy which has been on the downward spiral for the past two decades. It is not going to be easy. We will have to go through a period of belt tightening, all of us; we have to,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Progressive Political Parties (PPP) yesterday urged fellow opposition parties to shelve their differences and engage in a broad-based national dialogue.
PPP is a group of three political parties that include MDC-T, Coalition of Democrats and People’s Democratic Party.
MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe told journalists that opposition parties should engage in dialogue as a united front for the benefit of Zimbabwe.
“We are for progress and we want to see Zimbabwe return to its former glory. We want equal opportunities to all in regards to health, education, shelter and food,” she said.
The National Peace and Reconciliation Commission last week said it was working on a framework for dialogue that would bring together Mnangagwa, Chamisa, civic society organisations and other stakeholders in a bid to arrest the deteriorating situation in the country since last year’s controversial elections.