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MDC takes lead on national talks… as it engages in initial  discussions with key groups

THE MDC is laying the groundwork for the country’s mooted national dialogue by initiating preliminary talks with traditional leaders, churches, civil society organisations (CSOs) and student formations.   

This comes as there is a growing consensus among many of the country’s key stakeholders — including the ruling Zanu PF, the MDC, churches and CSOs — on the urgent need for inclusive national dialogue, to help end Zimbabwe’s decades-long myriad crises.

It also comes as the Church has presented a draft talks framework to Zanu PF, the MDC, Western powers and other stakeholders — as it pushes for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, opposition leaders Douglas Mwonzora and Nelson Chamisa to settle their political differences via the negotiating table.

Since his election last December as the MDC’s new substantive leader, Mwonzora has been especially steadfast in calling for national dialogue, as well as an end to the country’s entrenched culture of toxic political engagements.

Now, and following a meeting of the MDC’s national standing committee earlier this week, the main opposition party has started to engage traditional leaders, church leaders, civil society organisations and students in preparation for the mooted national talks.

“President Mwonzora led deliberations in the standing committee and reiterated the party’s position on national dialogue and healing.

“The meeting noted that plans on reaching out in earnest to traditional leaders, church leaders, civil society organisations, student bodies are afoot.

“We are engaging all these stakeholders to map the way forward on the issue of dialogue,” MDC spokesperson Witness Dube told the Daily News yesterday.

“We believe, informed by our history as a country, that dialogue helps to solve our problems … as seen from the Lancaster House negotiations to the Unity Accord of 1987 and the Global Political Agreement that led to the Government of National Unity (GNU) in 2009.

“We are also in the process of creating a white paper for what we have in mind, informed by experts — and once we are ready we will make it public,” he added.

This also comes as Mwonzora has been urging the country’s political leaders to work in the interest of all Zimbabweans and emulate the spirit of magnanimity that was a hallmark of the much-loved late founding father of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai.

Speaking on the third anniversary of Tsvangirai’s death last month, Mwonzora also said the former prime minister in the stability-inducing GNU would have embraced dialogue again, to help end Zimbabwe’s decades-long myriad challenges.

“We need to unite as Zimbabwe and learn to resolve our differences without violence. We must prepare the future of our children because people don’t eat politics.

“Quarrels are not working. Let us follow what Tsvangirai did. He went to the negotiating table to solve the country’s crisis, and as the MDC we are going for dialogue with other political parties.

“The benefits that Zimbabweans received as a result of Tsvangirai’s strategic choice are now a matter of historic record,” Mwonzora said.

In the meantime, the opposition has also said that it was important for Sadc and the African Union to help midwife the mooted national talks.

MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson, Clifford Hlatywayo, told the Daily News earlier this week that they were already engaging Sadc and other African countries, to help with the push for an all-inclusive dialogue.

“Dialogue must be guaranteed by the international community, especially Sadc and the African Union.

“The expectations of the people of Zimbabwe are to have a genuine dialogue and as such we must have an independent convenor, facilitator and venue,” he said.

MDC chairperson, Morgen Komichi, also told the Daily News that they intended to approach the regional bloc to mediate the much- talked about dialogue.

“Sadc is important. It must help Zimbabwe to have dialogue. Thus, the talks must be underwritten by Sadc. We want an African solution to our problems. So, Sadc is key in solving Zimbabwe’s situation.

“We will soon approach Sadc to help mediate and guarantee the outcome of the planned negotiations,” he said.

It also comes as the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) has shared with Zanu PF, the MDC and the MDC Alliance its draft proposal for national talks.

“The proposal is being shared with the diplomatic community, the business sector and civil society for their consideration because this is a conversation that the whole nation must have consideration regarding how we find consensus and lasting solutions to the challenges we are facing,” ZHOCD secretary- general Kenneth Mtata told the Daily News recently.

The ZHOCD is made up of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches, Zimbabwe Catholics Bishops Conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe and the Union of the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe — with these bodies believed to represent about 80 percent of the country’s Christians.

“Our member churches are also currently studying the national consensus proposal that was presented to His Excellency President Mnangagwa and to the opposition.

“This proposal seeks to find ways in which the nation can find convergence and consensus around five key issues.

“The first one of these is the issue around the humanitarian challenges we are faced with, not only as a result of the drought and cyclones we have had, but also the challenges we are witnessing in health and education even before the onset of Covid-19,” Mtata said.

“The proposal also looks at how we can find a meaningful closure around the hates and violations of the past.

“The proposal also looks at a mutually acceptable agenda for constitutional implementation and reforms. The fourth issue looks at establishing a new social contract towards an inclusive national economy, so that we embrace a new national recovery agenda in which there is broad participation.

“Lastly, this proposal looks at how we can establish international re-engagements in which there is broad participation which is supported by all key stakeholders,” Mtata further told the Daily News.

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