HPTO NetOne

No more grandstanding

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By Black Edward

THIS time the politicians have been honest about our crises. Their recent speeches emphasised substituting discord for dialogue as a way of tackling our country’s unstable political and economic environment.
They seem to be facing up to the realities of the harsh Zimbabwean landscape. It appears it’s now sinking in, for them, that bickering and grandstanding is a waste of energy. But the question is whether our leaders — whom we expect to raise standards of living — can get beyond mere speeches in support of turning around the economy. At the same time can hardliners in both Zanu PF and the opposition allow dialogue to take place? Cracks and fractures may already be appearing.

Look, this country needs concrete, workable solutions, not nasty rivalry among political parties which has cost us dearly for too long as a nation. The politicians must engage in effective and authentic dialogue.

They only need to look at our history and take notes from the Unity Accord and the Global Political Agreement which resulted in government of national unity (GNU) — events ample proof of the effectiveness of honest dialogue
and its capability to unlock Zimbabwe’s much-vaunted potential.

The country is dying for leaders who are prepared to take the bull by the horns for the sake of the country. Whatever differences the politicians may have should be settled amicably. It’s now time to demonstrate decisive leadership by being prepared to make difficult decisions.

The Zanu PF national political commissar, Victor Matemadanda, told the media that he was open to the ruling party meeting leading opposition figures outside the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad). MDC Alliance president Nelson Chamisa has indicated that he’s keen to resolve his political differences with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

He told his supporters in a Facebook address that it was time for politicians and their followers to set aside their differences… “Together we will win, weather the storm … let us not be divided by politicians,” Chamisa said. The leaders have shown great maturity and compassion to the poverty-weary Zimbabweans.

The benefits of VIPs’ political dialogue can be remarkable if participants are committed. Parties that did not see eye-to eye can get together and come up with new strategies to uplift the people. Mistrust will be overcome. New levels of commitment will be achieved and bonds strengthened resulting in prosperity and political stability as evidenced by the period that followed the GNU where people enjoyed some modicum of economic latitude.

VIPs’ dialogue is more important now than ever for a number of reasons. For one thing, the fight against Covid-19 pandemic needs concerted effort. For another, the meltdown of the economy makes it vital that leaders find a way forward. A third reason is that the confrontation between parties requires some process by which politicians can communicate across their differences.

Also we shouldn’t forget that the uncertainty associated with an unstable political environment scares off investors and affects the pace of economic development. Successful dialogue is a clear indication of good governance and this will boost our mantra “Zimbabwe is open for business”.

Opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora’s participation is recommended by some people since he completes the circle as he represents MDC and therefore is part of the system.

Speaking to the Daily News, Stephen Chan, a professor of World Politics at the University of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said: “Given conditions in Zimbabwe, dialogue is the only sensible way forward, but both MDC factions need to be involved and the dialogue needs to be transparent and even-handed…”

Of course, having talks outside Polad is not, by any means, undermining it. Many people believe Polad is still doing the best it can. It is hoped that Polad members are indeed listening to each other and that their dialogue is not monologue.

Apart from Polad other efforts should also be encouraged to end crises that continue to envelope the country. There’s no need to be rigid. By the way Polad is a grouping of 2018 presidential candidates, who play an advisory role to Mnangagwa as they proffer solutions on issues to do with the country’s affairs. So Mnangagwa can still maintain Polad for broader views.

According to media reports top clerics will meet this week in a bid to help kick-start the national dialogue involving Mnangagwa, the opposition and other key stakeholders.

Speaking to the Daily News, the executive secretary of the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations, Kenneth Mtata confirmed the planned meeting. In the past, talks between Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance have failed after the opposition queried Mnangagwa’s legitimacy following a highly contested presidential result in 2018 while Mnangagwa has insisted that he will only talk with Chamisa if his presidency was not in question — and that Chamisa joins Polad.

“We only hope that Zanu PF and the two MDCs are not speaking in forked tongues…” UZ political scientist Eldred Masunungure told the Daily News.

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