SENIOR STAFF WRITER
©️ DESPITE the ructions tearing the MDC apart, Nelson Chamisa, pictured, says he remains ready to engage with President Emmerson Mnangagwa, in a bid to try and end the country’s worsening political and economic crises, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the church has resuscitated its push for dialogue between the two — amid hopes that Monday’s gathering of the country’s top clerics at the National Day of Prayer in Harare will further assist the efforts to persuade them to end their long running feud.
Yesterday, Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda told the Daily News that contrary to the recent claims that the embattled MDC Alliance leader was stalling national dialogue, he was actually keen to resolve his political differences with Mnangagwa.
“Our crisis is a political crisis. We have a five-point plan which is in tandem with Mthuli Ncube’s economic recovery plan. We have to settle the political crisis first.
“The president’s (Chamisa’s) position on dialogue has not changed. He has been willing and is still willing to talk,” he said.
Sibanda also dismissed last weekend’s claims by Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba — who told the Daily News’s sister paper, the Daily News on Sunday, that Chamisa was not keen to hold dialogue with the Zanu PF leader because of the MDC’s raging factional wars.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Daily News on Sunday, Charamba said Chamisa was reluctant to participate in the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) — ostensibly because he did not want to share the stage with the MDC’s interim leader Thokozani Khupe.
Khupe is part of Polad, a platform for political parties which fielded presidential candidates in the 2018 elections — with the aim of giving them the space to contribute to social, economic and political progress in the country.
It was launched in May last year.
Chamisa has refused outright to be part of the platform, arguing that it is there to further Mnangagwa’s political interests — whose leadership of the country he also disputes.
“The biggest stumbling block in Chamisa’s participation in Polad is not Polad. It is the fact of sharing the seat with Thokozani Khupe. That’s what he can’t countenance.
“He doesn’t want Khupe to appear (on the same stage) at all. He has no difficulty working with the likes of Welshman Ncube who got far less votes compared to him or Tendai Biti.
“But he has a problem with sitting in the context of Polad with Khupe, whom he acknowledges got the most votes after him. What is the logic here?” Charamba told the Daily News on Sunday.
However, following Monday’s National Day of Prayer, which the country’s top clerics attended in their numbers, there is fresh hope and renewed attempts to bring Mnangagwa and Chamisa to the negotiating table again.
Monday’s event was attended by clerics from the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference (ZCBC), the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe (EFZ), the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) and the Indigenous Zimbabwe Inter-denominational Council of Churches, as well as the Zimbabwe National Elders Forum.
Yesterday, ZCBC secretary-general Father Frederick Chiromba said the church was working on making Zanu PF and the MDC to find common ground, which would enable “meaningful dialogue” between their leaders.
“The church can assist in pushing for dialogue, and for a very long time we have been pushing for the country’s main political actors to set their differences aside and dialogue.
“All actors have said they are willing, but up to now they still haven’t met in one room to discuss how we can solve our challenges as a nation,” Chiromba told the Daily News.
“What we are trying to do is establish commonalities which can bring the actors together.
“Engagement is done when people share a common interest and perhaps the reason why we haven’t seen dialogue is because the two main political parties do not share common interests.
“So what we are doing is to establish those commonalities,” Chiromba further told the Daily News.
Meanwhile, University of Zimbabwe political science lecturer, Eldred Masunungure, said it was welcome that there appeared to be some convergence of minds among inter-denominational clerics who have themselves been polarised in the past.
“When you look at the church in Zimbabwe, you will see that it is polarised as much as the political environment is.
“This becomes difficult for the church to mediate between the two main political parties, and to find a political solution to the country’s problems which we desperately need.
“So the church’s role is critical if not decisive. We have Nelson Chamisa who says he is a pastor and Mnangagwa who also claims to be guided by the values of Christianity.
“This is an advantage to the church, which it can use as common ground to try and bring the political actors together,” Masunungure told the Daily News.
All this comes after Zanu PF stalwart and politburo member, Tshinga Dube, recently re-ignited the inclusive dialogue issue — telling the Daily News last month that a government of national unity (GNU) was the panacea to the country’s current political and economic crises.
Dube — the straight-talking former War Veterans minister and known supporter of Mnangagwa — called for the formation of another GNU, similar to the stability-inducing arrangement of 2009.
“At the current rate, it will take a long time for us to get it right. I have always said economics and politics are like two legs of men. If the other leg is dysfunctional, the other leg won’t be able to walk straight.
“You cannot have a good economy where there is no good politics.
“I am … calling for a government of national unity, not because there is a vacancy … but I feel it will make us focus on running the economy only, instead of spending so much time fighting and squabbling over politics,” the ever candid Dube told the Daily News exclusively.
In 2009, the late former president Robert Mugabe was forced into forming a GNU with the MDC’s much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, after the hotly-disputed 2008 polls.
The short-lived GNU was credited with stabilising the country’s economy which had imploded in the run-up to those elections.
In those polls, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down. However, the results were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later revealed 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 to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.
Mugabe went on to stand in an embarrassing and widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.
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