SENIOR STAFF WRITER
THE continued push by Pretoria to help Zimbabwe overcome its decades-long political and economic crises has created an air of optimism among opposition parties, civil society groups and the Church, the Daily News reports.
In addition, the welcome decision by Zanu PF this week — to allow South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) to meet with local opposition groups and other key stakeholders in future — has further raised hopes that the much-needed and much-talked about national dialogue may finally be on the horizon.
This comes as President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC are showing admirable fortitude as they bid to end Zimbabwe’s deepening myriad challenges — which once again hit international headlines recently after authorities were accused of gross human rights violations by government critics.
This week, Ramaphosa dispatched a high-powered ANC delegation to Harare led by secretary- general Ace Magashule, for crucial bilateral talks with Zanu PF.
Yesterday, the opposition, civil society organisations and clerics told the Daily News that the visit by the ANC bigwigs was good news for the country.
The convener of the Citizens Manifesto, Briggs Bomba, said the most welcome thing about the Zanu PF and ANC meeting was the admission by both parties that Zimbabwe was facing significant challenges — “even though semantics were deployed to avoid using the word crisis”.
“In political terms, the word crisis simply means that the current status quo lacks the capacity to solve the most pressing problems of the day, and hence the need for an alternative formulation.
“We appreciate the role that the ANC and other regional players are playing in bringing the awareness that an inclusive national dialogue is the only viable way out.
“We are eagerly waiting for the opportunity for citizens, through formations such as the Church, civil society, labour and business, to be heard as well,” Bomba told the Daily News.
“We have always emphasised that the country needs an urgent dialogue towards a national comprehensive settlement.
“We are confident that if such a genuine process is implemented everyone in Zimbabwe will be the happier for it,” he added.
On its part, the MDC Alliance said the visit by the ANC’s heavyweights was a sign that South Africa was concerned by Zimbabwe’s ongoing problems.
“We appreciate the revolutionary stance by the ANC that it has to engage with all parties. However, we note that Zanu PF is using its old tricks of delaying and running away from issues that matter most.
“A Sadc intervention that is guaranteed by the African Union will lead to the resolution of the crisis in Zimbabwe, and we continue to engage our regional counterparts to help solve it once and for all,” Lovemore Chinoputsa, the alliance’s deputy secretary for international relations, said.
The Church also said it welcomed South Africa’s attempts to bring Zanu PF and other key stakeholders together, to settle their differences for the good of the country.
The secretary-general of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), Blessing Makwara, told the Daily News that the visit by the ANC’s top brass was important in terms of laying the foundation for national dialogue.
“We have been calling for inclusive broad dialogue and this feedback that there is that green light to engage other stakeholders is welcome. We hope we will be able to engage constructively as we go forward.
“We are still praying and believing that the Lord is going to give us that which brings healing and restoration to the people of Zimbabwe because it is the time for us to arise and have a Zimbabwe that God wants.
“We are so excited about what God has begun to do and it is consistent with what we have been saying, that it is important for people from all walks of life to be together and dream together,” Makwara said.
However, the secretary-general of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Kenneth Mtata, said a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s challenges should be locally constructed, with neighbours giving solidarity.
“Zimbabweans must, collectively, find consensus on problem-definition, possible solutions and mutually acceptable processes towards realising those solutions.
“Neighbours, including South Africa, can only provide much-needed regional, continental and global solidarity. Solidarity doesn’t replace agency.
“Always remember that the one who liberates you will seek to have a stake over your freedom. We must be our own liberators and it starts with the mind,” Mtata told the Daily News.
The meeting between Zanu PF and the ANC came as the calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to hold national talks with all key stakeholders have now reached a crescendo — in the wake of Zimbabwe’s deepening political and economic crises.
This comes as more details of the meeting between the two parties are emerging, with sources telling the Daily News yesterday that Zanu PF had produced a 27-page security document to dispel the allegations of human rights abuses by the government.
On Wednesday, other sources had told the Daily News that the talks between Zanu PF and the ANC had been very candid and robust, with all the niggling issues put on the table.
Addressing the media after their arrival in South Africa yesterday, Magashule said they were determined to “bring the Zimbabwean people together”.
“In terms of meeting with other stakeholders and other political parties, because of time, we agreed that we will go back or they will come to us.
“Give us two to three weeks because we have communicated to them that we are definitely going to meet them.
“We have communicated such an interaction with all of them and we have informed Zanu PF and they have no problem with that,” Magashule said.
He said the meeting with Zanu PF was “a very candid, frank and honest discussion”.
“They have not blocked us from seeing anyone. We have agreed that we will go back and arrange for the meeting.
“The meeting is not arranged by Zanu PF. So, we are going to bring together the people of Zimbabwe, recognising they came from a recent election and we need peace and stability in that province,” Magashule said further.
South Africa and its leaders — including former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma — have in the past successfully mediated Zimbabwe’s political crises.
A decade ago, both Mbeki and Zuma helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between opposition giant Morgan Tsvangirai and former president Robert Mugabe — who are both late — following the hotly disputed 2008 presidential election.
Zuma also assisted in minimising Zimbabwe’s chaotic approach to the equally disputed 2013 national elections.