Chamisa chases talks momentum… as he flies to SA to confer with Mbeki, Ramaphosa
AMID rising political tensions and economic strife in the country, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa is in South Africa to meet former president Thabo Mbeki — in a last ditch effort to foster dialogue between him and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Daily News reports.
This comes as hardliners within both Zanu PF and the MDC are said to be working hard to scupper Mbeki’s Zim mission, including stopping the retired statesman from returning to the country to continue with his valiant efforts to get Mnangagwa and Chamisa to end their political bickering.
Mbeki — who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and ex-president Robert Mugabe, who are both late — was in the country last December to try and nudge Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold talks.
Yesterday, Chamisa’s aides confirmed to the Daily News that the MDC boss was in SA to meet Mbeki — in a bid to unlock the country’s political logjam which has worsened the dire economic plight of ordinary Zimbabweans.
“We were expecting that Mbeki would come back, but it seems that this is taking long. So, a decision was made at the highest level that the president (Chamisa) travels to South Africa and appraise the political leadership there of the country’s situation,” one of the aides said.
This view was later buttressed by Chamisa himself during an interview with the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC), in which he said he was in that country to remind its leadership on the urgency of Zimbabwe’s political and economic situation.
“I have not met with President Mnangagwa since when we were in Parliament … I think it is now almost two years which is quite sad because people compete in an election and are supposed to have a conversation post-election to find a way forward for the nation.
“This is one sad part for me that you just go into an election … meet through the ballot, beyond the ballot you are not able to converse or communicate.
“In Africa, wherever there is a negotiation … there has to be a negotiator because that is our nature as a people,” Chamisa said.
“For us to be able to deal with the acrimony … disharmony and disagreement between us and … Mnangagwa, there is need to have a credible negotiator.
“We think that the avenue and platform created by President Mbeki will go a long way to creating this conversation.
“It is now more urgent than ever before because the situation in the country has really taken a nosedive. Things are going down south in many ways,” Chamisa told the SA public broadcaster further.
He also said he would use his visit to South Africa to implore President Cyril Ramaphosa to take decisive action on the Zimbabwean crisis, which he warned could engulf the whole region.
“We now have fresh evidence after the Constitutional Court determination of the dispute between us and … Mnangagwa, particularly in the Zec (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) report that was tabled in Parliament, wherein the commission is indicating that they flouted the law and the procedures of elections in announcing the elections of 2018.
“That evidence has to be at the doorstep of Sadc, the African Union (AU) and of course … President Ramaphosa to show and validate the fact that indeed elections in Zimbabwe were rigged and stolen.
“We will not be able to have a credible 2023 election until we … resolve the … disputed election so that we prevent future disputes,” Chamisa said.
“We don’t want to have a recycling of the same old problems. This is a vicious cycle that has to be curbed so that we will have credible elections,” he further told the SABC.
This comes as Zimbabwe is in the grip of a huge economic crisis which has stirred anger and restlessness among long-suffering ordinary people.
The worsening rot has caught the attention of both the region and the AU who now fear that Zimbabwe’s long-running political dispute could destabilise the entire sub-region.
Mbeki was in Zimbabwe in December last year as part of efforts by Sadc and the AU to try and mediate talks aimed at ending the crisis.
Previously, both Mnangagwa and Chamisa have said that they are interested in dialogue, although nothing concrete has developed despite those encouraging statements.
On his part, Mnangagwa has remained resolute in his demands that any talks with Chamisa should be held under the platform of the political actors’ dialogue (Polad) — where he regularly holds meetings with leaders of fringe opposition parties, who a large cross-section of Zimbabweans has dismissed as tokens, particularly as the youthful MDC boss is not part of this structure.
Chamisa himself has repeatedly ruled out joining Polad — demanding instead direct dialogue with Mnangagwa.
In 2009, Mugabe was forced into forming a government of national unity (GNU) with Tsvangirai after the hotly-disputed 2008 polls.
Tsvangirai was widely believed to have beaten Mugabe hands down in those polls.
However, the results of the elections were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later confirmed by former bigwigs of the ruling Zanu PF.
In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in an orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed — forcing the former prime minister in the inclusive government to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.
In the meantime, to add to the country’s woes, Zimbabwe is experiencing acute shortages of the staple maize-meal, amid massive hunger which has affected more than 8,5 million people.