HARARE – Zanu PF has given President designate Emmerson Mnangagwa its full backing to form a new-look government that would include the opposition as part of the reforms aimed at transforming the lives of long suffering ordinary Zimbabweans, the Daily News can reveal.
This comes as the 75-year-old Mnangagwa takes over the reins today when he would be sworn in by the Chief Justice Luke Malaba to pave way for the consummation of a new Cabinet.
The swearing in of Mnangagwa means at law he has dissolved the Cabinet which was recently announced by former president Robert Mugabe and is now at liberty to put his own team he believes would be competent to lead government programmes.
Sources told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa held his first politburo meeting as the new Zanu PF leader on Wednesday, hours after he had returned to the country following 15 days in self-imposed exile.
“…ED got the backing of the politburo on the need to form a government that includes opposition figures. Both him and the party are aware of the need to heal previous rifts, unite the people and resuscitate the economy.
“Part of uniting people is having an inclusive government based on trust and unity. So don’t be surprised in the coming days to hear an announcement of a Cabinet that involves opposition figures,” a senior Zanu PF official told the Daily News yesterday.
While Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo was non-committal on the issue, the party’s secretary for legal affairs Patrick Chinamasa said Zanu PF had no problems with an inclusive arrangement, adding that Mnangagwa would announce his programme of action today.
Chinamasa said although nothing substantive was discussed in the meeting “except to brief the president on what processes were carried out in his absence”, the need for inclusivity is not debatable.
“Just wait until tomorrow (today) when the new president takes charge and he will define his agenda but I can tell you that we want to engage all stakeholders and come up with a reform agenda that will transform the lives of our people.
“We can only achieve that when we work with everyone regardless of political affiliation because what government will do will affect everyone so there is need for consensus with stakeholders including the opposition on fundamental issues of policy so that we can engage the outside world with one voice,” said Chinamasa who was Finance minister before getting a demotion from Mugabe in his Cabinet reshuffle.
Chinamasa said people had “wrongly” interpreted the statement he made on Sunday at the end of the Zanu PF central committee meeting which resolved to recall Mugabe from government.
“Those who portrayed a picture of us as Zanu PF saying we can do it all alone misquoted me because what I said then was that the processes underway in Zanu PF are an internal issue and I do not envisage how the opposition can help us in that regard not that we don’t need them in national development,” Chinamasa clarified.
If Mnangagwa goes ahead and forms an inclusive government it wouldn’t be a surprise given the past experiences of the short lived but stability inducing arrangement which saw Mugabe ending years of hostilities with MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai in February 2009 to form a Cabinet that included the opposition.
Although short lived, the life of the four-year unity government brought positives changes to the economy and lives of millions of impoverished Zimbabweans whose little savings had been wiped off by hyperinflation.
Two of the biggest achievements of that unity government were the stability brought by the use of the United States dollar as the main currency and the economic growth of 11,9 percent which was a world record.
Mnangagwa who was credited with leading meaningful government re-engagement efforts during his time as the VP, has for long been said to favour working with the opposition, especially Tsvangirai, to rebuild the economy, if her ever became president.
He has previously been said to have a working relationship with the popular MDC leader.
In the early 2000, it was revealed that Tsvangirai had talked with independent mediators on behalf of Mnangagwa, who was the Speaker of Parliament then, and the then commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, Vitalis Zvinavashe.
The MDC leader was later to reveal that “they wanted my assurance that if Mugabe retired, the MDC would take part in a transition towards new democratic elections”.
Tsvangirai named retired army colonel Lionel Dyke, a close associate of both men, as a mediator.
In a leaked WikiLeaks cable, a senior MDC official was quoted telling United States embassy staff in Harare that South Africa’s African National Congress had agreed to a Zanu PF plan for Mnangagwa to replace Mugabe, while offering token representation to the opposition.
Recently, Reuters news agency reported that Mnangagwa was envisaging cooperating with Tsvangirai to lead a transitional government for five years with the tacit backing of some of Zimbabwe’s military personnel and Britain.
Quoting sources, the wire service said its sources left open the possibility that the government could be unelected with the aim of avoiding chaos that has followed some previous elections.
This unity government, it said, was to pursue a new relationship with thousands of white farmers who were chased off in violent seizures of land approved by Mugabe