OPPOSITION leader Nelson Chamisa says he will approach Sadc and the African Union (AU) in a bid to compel the government to accept former South African President Thabo Mbeki as a mediator in the country’s political deadlock, the Daily News reports.
This comes as the government has effectively vetoed Mbeki’s mediation efforts by insisting that any dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Chamisa should happen within the framework of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad).
Chamisa also told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa’s delay in resolving the country’s worsening political and economic crises through direct talks with him was now likely to result in rolling mass protests that could see the president and Zanu PF being humiliated.
“My message for harmony has no takers, but that does not distract us from a peaceful struggle. It was done before in other nations.
“We need peaceful change. The country needs real change. You can’t expect things to be normal when people are hungry, but sadly it is the perpetrators who are being arrogant by refusing dialogue.
“This has always been the case from the days of … other dictators. It is always the wrongdoers who are the last ones to see the light,” Chamisa said.
“My message to Zimbabweans is ‘get ready’. We must work together as Zimbabweans. We want our country back.
“I will not go to Polad because it is a public relations exercise by Mnangagwa. I won’t be part of the mascara on a frog. A bad situation cannot be beautified by cosmetics of a false dialogue.
“Rejecting the mediation of President Mbeki is the mistake of my brothers and sisters who are lost in Zanu PF because this is not a Chamisa issue but a Zimbabwean issue,” Chamisa added.
“There is need for a genuine dialogue. All the settlements that have been carried in the country, including the Lancaster House conference of 1979 had foreign mediation.
“So, we need an impartial foreign mediator. We will leave no stone unturned in finding solutions to the crisis in the country, including engaging Sadc and the African Union,” he said further.
Last week, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba dimmed the prospects for direct talks between his boss and Chamisa — to end Zimbabwe’s growing economic crisis — by saying Mbeki was not going to mediate in the country’s political impasse.
“Why would he (Mnangagwa) need to invite President Mbeki? Who wants President Mbeki to mediate?
“I don’t know about the South African embassy because that (Mbeki) is their national. They can expect him in the country anytime.
“What would be wrong is for anyone to create an impression that the political dialogue in Zimbabwe requires external mediation,” Charamba said.
“It doesn’t, and that position has been made clear to all and sundry, including local players and well-wishers.
“The former president of South Africa is aware of that position by the government of Zimbabwe.
“He is also aware of the standing arrangement of interaction among parties which is called Polad, and that there won’t be any other,” Charamba added emphatically.
“As for the claims that President Mnangagwa did not make a call, or did not receive a call from or to President Mbeki, the truth of the matter is that there was no need for a call from either side.
“If anything, the two met on the sidelines of the African Union (AU) strictly from a position of camaraderie … briefing a colleague about political developments in the country, economic developments … but more critically … about sanctions,” he said further.
“As you are aware, the AU makes provisions for elder statesmen of Africa to sit in its sessions.
“But more critically, the president of Zimbabwe met with the president of South Africa Cyril Ramaphosa and briefed him about the situation in the country … socially, politically, and diplomatically.
“I am making this point because I don’t want anyone to be left with a mistaken notion that the mere act of meeting with elements within the South African leadership implies a request from Zimbabwe for them to mediate.
“That request has never been made and will not be made,” Charamba said as he hammered the government’s position home.
Yesterday, the government’s spokesperson Nick Mangwana also said there was not going to be any foreign mediation in the country.
“President ED Mnangagwa has been communicating with Thabo Mbeki before Chamisa was even in primary school. They don’t need Chamisa to referee their communication.
“He (Chamisa) should not be a busy body who inappropriately inserts himself in how two statesmen interface with each other.
“There is absolutely no reason to invite Mbeki to mediate anything in Zimbabwe,” Mangwana told the Daily News.
“The only outstanding issue out there … that needs the elder statesmen and stateswomen’s intervention is their support for calls for the removal of sanctions against Zimbabwe,” he added.
But Chamisa warned yesterday that any failure to have the mooted dialogue could also see the MDC boycotting the 2023 elections.
“When you make peaceful engagement impossible you make … confrontation inevitable.
“It is not normal that people are hungry in a country that is so rich … have empty pockets in a land with multiple resources.
“People are the ones who give power and … take away power. In 2023 there will be no elections if there are no reforms,” Chamisa warned.
“I have heard some people say there is no crisis in Zimbabwe, but it is clear that everything is rotten. The suffering of the people has to stop. Zimbabweans have been terrorised for far too long.
“There is nothing bad that has not been done to Zimbabweans. Some have been fired from the government simply because of their political beliefs,” he said further.
Mbeki — who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former 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 direct talks.
Previously, both Mnangagwa and Chamisa have said that they were interested in dialogue, although nothing concrete has happened despite those encouraging statements.
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 Zanu PF bigwigs.
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 popular former prime minister in the inclusive government to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.