AMID rising political temperatures and a worsening economic crisis, President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday appealed to opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, as well as the business community, to join him in turning around the country’s economic fortunes, the Daily News reports.
This comes as Zimbabwe’s economic crisis this week saw thousands of commuters across the country struggling to travel to and from work as a result of the current debilitating fuel shortages.
Apart from the transport blues, several shops struggled to control hungry citizens who besieged supermarkets as they sought to lay their hands on the elusive maize meal — which has been in short supply since the end of the festive season.
A day after Chamisa warned that the MDC was ready for a revolution, Mnangagwa yesterday appealed to both the youthful opposition boss and the business community to join him in “working for the development of the country”.
“Today I have the privilege to be part of this historic occasion with representatives from the various political parties and the other sectors of our society gathered to discuss issues, share ideas and make recommendations on how we can accelerate the turnaround efforts of our country’s economy.
“This event is unprecedented by that it is the first of its kind to be organised by political actors from across the political divide under the banner of the Polad,” Mnangagwa said in reference to the economic summit organised by Polad in the capital yesterday.
“This platform welcomes to the table all those who have a shared vision for a better life and a better Zimbabwe.
“I once again invite those political actors that have not joined this national discourse to join us,” he added in apparent reference to Chamisa and other opposition officials who have refused to join Polad.
Mnangagwa further said that the cornerstone of his government was dialogue as a means of resolving economic challenges through knowledge and information sharing.
“No one has the monopoly of ideas on how our country can speedily modernise, industrialise and develop.
“It is only through dialogue and hard honest work that our collective efforts can be fruitful.
“As you may be aware Polad is an institution which seeks to enhance national cohesion and mutual tolerance.
“The forum is committed to take remedial steps to address and identify gaps to enhance economic stability, growth and sustainable economic development,” Mnangagwa said further.
Mnangagwa said he was aware that the country’s problems would not be solved overnight, but commitment and togetherness would accelerate economic growth.
“In doing so let us be realistic and acknowledge that to put our country on its reins will not be an event, but a process.
“There are no quick fixes. We must be bold and stay on course while seeking sustainable means to resolve our economic challenges.
“Let us act and speak with the collective good and never be blinded by individual or sectorial benefits,” he added.
Zimbabwe’s mega economic crisis has heightened calls for dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa — which is seen as the only way to stop the country from plunging into total chaos.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has been trying to mediate in the Zimbabwean crisis.
However, the prospects of him succeeding in this regard have dimmed following the government’s rejection of his involvement in the much-talked about dialogue.
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 developed despite those encouraging statements.
On his part, Mnangagwa has since been very consistent in his demands that any talks with Chamisa should be held under 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 also repeatedly ruled out joining Polad — instead demanding direct dialogue with Mnangagwa.
The worsening rot saw the MDC this week raising the political temperatures by warning Mnangagwa and his government that the deteriorating environment was now conducive for a revolution.
First, it was MDC national vice chairperson, the combative Job “Wiwa” Sikhala who warned Mnangagwa that “enough is enough” following the new lows experienced this week.
On his part, Chamisa said it was time for long-suffering Zimbabweans “to make sacrifices” — before rallying citizens to participate in planned mass protests.
“If we are going to be out in our millions, no gun is effective against people who are determined and resolute.
“Yes, some may die, but at the end of it, when you have an intransigent regime, that is the price that will have to be paid.
“We have given peace a chance and they are snubbing our call for dialogue, mistaking it for a weakness,” Chamisa said.
“We are not weak people, but strong people who believe in peace. They (Zanu PF and the government) must not take us for granted.
“Protests are coming because whenever there is oppression, the demand for freedom becomes natural. The people are ready and all we need to do is to give the oxygen for the action.
“A revolution is a decision. Anger is growing across the whole country, and anger is going to be the catalyst and fertiliser to a revolution,” Chamisa added.
“The young people are frustrated that their future is being stolen.
“They are angry because those who grabbed power are arrogant and do not want to listen to their voices. Their vote was stolen … that they have to queue for everything,” he said further.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa yesterday further appealed to the international community to be patient with his government in implementing much-needed political and economic reforms.
Both the European Union (EU) and the United States of America (USA) have extended sanctions on Zimbabwe over “lack of meaningful reforms” and the “shrinking of democratic space”.
“It is commendable that this forum is being attended by our development partners and members of the diplomatic corps, who are all indispensable partners to our economic development.
“I call on you to bear with us as we implement our wide ranging reforms towards the speedy modernisation and industrialisation of our economy.
“Allow me to highlight that we are undertaking these reforms on our own with no support from international financial institutions which is enjoyed by other jurisdictions undertaking similar reforms.
“This will not dampen our resolve at all, we will soldier on,” Mnangagwa said.