HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa has rejected the growing calls for political dialogue in the country, including the formation of a new government of national unity (GNU) to help end Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, presidential spokesperson George Charamba also said even if Mnangagwa were to be persuaded to consider knitting together a GNU — as proposed by respected liberation stalwart Tshinga Dube on Tuesday — this would be difficult to achieve given the wars tearing apart the MDC.
This comes as the country’s political and economic crises continue to deepen — with the recently re-introduced Zim dollar plunging on the parallel market against major currencies, triggering a new wave of price increases of basic goods.
“We respect Dube as a veteran freedom fighter. He has been a senior member of the party, and remains so, which means his views will always be taken seriously, except in this particular case.
“It appears he has forgotten key developments that are happening in the country … Firstly, he seems to be detached from the goings-on in the MDC camp.
“Presently, who will be their interlocutor, assuming the president was inclined to entertain the MDC?” Charamba told the Daily News yesterday.
“By the way, the president has always been inclined to accommodate the MDC party, but never exclusively.
“There is also this Supreme Court judgment which has triggered certain processes in the MDC, and which processes would need to be concluded before we know the bonafide leader of the MDC.
“Is he (Dube) suggesting that the president overrides court processes and party processes, in order to engage a party which is still in a state of unsettledness?” Charamba further told the Daily News.
This comes as the MDC is in the midst of significant disarray, following a recent Supreme Court ruling which upheld an earlier decision by the High Court that voided Nelson Chamisa’s leadership of the country’s largest opposition party.
In its ruling, the Supreme Court installed Thokozani Khupe as the party’s interim president pending the holding of an extraordinary congress within three months of its ruling.
The country’s highest court also restored former MDC secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora and ex-chairperson Morgen Komichi to their previous positions which they held before Chamisa’s disputed ascendancy to power.
Ever since this court ruling, the Khupe and Chamisa groups have been involved in a hammer and tongs tussle for the control of the MDC.
Charamba also told the Daily News yesterday that Mnangagwa did not need to form a GNU because he had won the hotly-disputed 2018 polls.
“If Dube’s memory serves him well, and I have no doubt it does, he would know the circumstances under which a government of national unity is constructed … there has to be a result which is hung or an electoral result which is unresolved.
“In our case, we didn’t have a hung result and secondly, while that result was disputed, it went to a process of settlement … which involved … the judiciary … and it was resolved there.
“So, essentially, it means … all these issues were resolved comprehensively — firstly, by the electorate and secondly by the Constitutional Court,” Charamba told the Daily News further.
“Lastly, we are in 2020, just over two years shy of the next general election. Does it make sense to have a GNU this far late, with a democratically defined mandate of a winner?
“We are aware that there are some western countries, in the wake of the troubles in the MDC, that have sought to get Zanu PF to help MDC put out its fire by creating a side show.
“I don’t think Cde Tshinga is a sharer of that thinking. That is the enemy’s thinking and it does not need to enlist the support of Zimbabweans, let alone those of the calibre of Cde Dube,” Charamba added.
“The simple answer is that the advice sits so oddly on the circumstances of the country and for that reason it is rejected,” he told the Daily News further.
This comes as more and more people — including Western powers and church groups — have recently added their voice to the calls for political dialogue in the country.
Political analysts have also warned Mnangagwa and his government that the worsening economic rot will likely trigger public unrest if they continue dithering about fixing the myriad 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 — in his wide-ranging interview with the Daily News on Monday.
“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.
“All these things we are hearing about abductions and torture are caused by divisions, and they affect the reputation of our country.
“So, if they (politicians) can come together, all this will be over … and we don’t lose anything as a nation.
“But there are some people in government who feel that maybe if this GNU comes into effect, they will lose their positions,” the former Zipra bigwig further told the Daily News.
“But we are not looking at that, we are looking at the development of the country. Look at how neighbouring countries are fast developing ahead of us.
“Everyone here is thinking about power. Where have you seen a country with 23 people aspiring to be a president?
“It’s not surprising that in the next elections, this number may double up,” Dube added — referring to the record number of people who stood as presidential candidates in the disputed 2018 national elections.
The worsening local economic and political crises also come as Zimbabwe is fighting the double whammy of the deadly effects of the global coronavirus pandemic and the regional drought that has left millions of people in the country facing starvation.
Despite showing early signs of efforts to turn around the economy, which had suffered from years of corruption and mismanagement under the previous ruinous rule of the late former president Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa and his lieutenants are now finding the going tough.
In 2009, Mugabe was forced into forming a GNU with the MDC’s much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, after the equally 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.