SENIOR STAFF WRITER
MDC bigwigs say they are frustrated by the painfully slow progress towards the much talked about national dialogue — amid claims that authorities are blocking South African officials from returning to the country to assist Zimbabwe end its challenges.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, MDC Alliance vice president Welshman Ncube, pictured, confirmed that they were not happy with the current snail’s pace towards the resolution of the country’s decades-long political and economic challenges.
At the same time, he warned that any failure to resolve the country’s myriad crises would lead to a further complication of the problems, as well as political unrest — as anger was building up among long-suffering Zimbabweans.
This comes as South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) have been trying to assist Zimbabwe in ending its long-standing problems — which recently attracted international attention after authorities were accused of human rights abuses.
It also comes after President Emmerson Mnangagwa recently said that he was prepared to engage the opposition, but only within the confines of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) — a platform which brings together candidates of the 2018 presidential elections.
Speaking in the exclusive interview with the Daily News yesterday, Ncube said they were not happy with the current slow pace of developments on the talks front.
“The ANC and the (Ramaphosa’s) special envoys have not been officially in touch to advise us on when they will be coming back.
“We are, however, aware that the reason they have not returned is because the government here is not co-operating in terms of giving them the diplomatic clearance they need to come.
“That is the stumbling block, hence it depends on whether they want help or not,” the ever amiable and unflappable Ncube told the Daily News.
“Zanu PF is behaving like a drug addict in denial. Until a drug addict accepts that he has a problem no one can help him.
“We are aware that in their pitch to the ANC, they (Zanu PF) admitted that there was a problem, but that it was economic and engendered by sanctions. That is nonsensical of course.
“The MDC has for years rightly resisted the temptation to resort to violent means to settle the country’s political question.
“However, if things continue like this, eventually the country will get to a point where some people will conclude that peaceful resolution to the country’s problems is not possible,” Ncube further told the Daily News.
“At that point, the young people will tell us to go and hang, and take matters into their own hands and use other means that are not necessarily peaceful.
“What happened to Ian Smith when he refused to listen to the people’s demands? The youths of that time decided to use other means. That time will certainly come,” Ncube warned.
Ramaphosa dispatched ANC bigwigs to Zimbabwe last month to engage Zanu PF, as part of efforts to assist the country.
The two former liberation movements were said to have been very candid and robust with each other in their heart-to-heart dialogue, which was held at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.
Following the visit by the ANC bigwigs, the South African ruling party said it welcomed Zanu PF’s decision to let them meet the country’s opposition and other interest groups in future.
“As such, we remain committed to extending the space for political dialogue — with a view of advancing the social, political and economic interests of the people of Zimbabwe and South Africa, in the context of advancing African unity, and the continuing quest for political and economic emancipation.
“The ANC, therefore, warmly welcomes the constructive approach of Zanu PF with regards to the ANC meeting with other stakeholders, opposition parties and civil society organisations in Zimbabwe.
“In this regard, it was agreed that the ANC will, in the foreseeable future, return to Zimbabwe to proceed with these envisaged meetings,” ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe said upon the return of the party’s bigwigs from Zimbabwe.
Yesterday, Ncube also told the Daily News that they were still hopeful that South Africa, Sadc and the African Union (AU) would help Zimbabwe to end its myriad crises.
“Our position remains that the only peaceful and sustainable solution to the decades-long crises in Zimbabwe is dialogue among Zimbabweans, to find a political settlement that will open the doors for economic revival.
“However, and because of the levels of mistrust caused by Zanu PF’s insincerity, it is difficult for any dialogue to take place without external mediation.
“We remain hopeful and we will continue to lobby South Africa, Sadc and the AU to realise that they have a responsibility to help Zimbabwe.
“It will be extremely foolish to continue with the way Zanu PF is handling the country. You do not need to be a rocket scientist to see that we are in a mess and that if we continue like this, things will only get worse,” Ncube further told the Daily News.
But deputy Foreign Affairs minister, David Musabayana, refuted Ncube’s claims that authorities were refusing to grant ANC bigwigs clearance to return for meetings with the opposition and other interest groups.
“I really do not see how they can be blocked, unless it was the South African government that wanted to come.
“I am not aware of any request from anyone to come and meet them that was blocked. The president has always talked about engagement and re-engagement,” he said.
Last month, Mnangagwa said he would not seek outside intervention to hold dialogue with the opposition and other key stakeholders in the country.
However, and despite ruling out outside intervention, Mnangagwa also said the country’s deepening challenges required unity of purpose among all Zimbabweans.
Speaking at last month’s Polad meeting, he said the door remained open for Nelson Chamisa and others who had snubbed the platform to join him there and work together to deal with Zimbabwe’s problems.
“I wish to unequivocally state that there is no crisis in Zimbabwe as elections were held in July 2018 and a winner was declared in terms of the country’s constitution.
“All contestants were invited to join this dialogue in the national interest. The door is still open for those outside … Let me say the challenges facing our country call for continued unity of purpose across the political divide.
“Your continued commitment to the call to serve the country is acknowledged and will surely result in making our country great,” Mnangagwa said, emphasising that all dialogue would be held under the auspices of Polad.