‘Outsiders won’t dictate Zim talks’… ED thunders, as Zanu PF’s attitude hardens

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By Sindiso Mhlophe and Blessings Mashaya
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa said yesterday that he would not seek outside intervention to hold dialogue with the opposition and other interest groups in the country, the Daily News reports.

At the same time, a group led by former American diplomats implored South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) to help end Zimbabwe’s decades-long political and economic crises.
This comes as Mnangagwa continues to insist that any dialogue with the opposition must be convened under the auspices of his Political Actors Dialogue (Polad).
Addressing yesterday’s meeting of the Zanu PF central committee, Mnangagwa also pooh-poohed talk that there is a crisis in the country.
“This session comes against yet another crushing failure of machinations by our detractors, on social media, to reverse and destabilise the unity, peace, security and development milestone our party fought for.
“I applaud the people of Zimbabwe and leadership of the party for remaining resolute in defiance of the opposition’s regime change agenda and worrying levels of self-hate through a sustained call to make our country … ungovernable.
South Africa’s president, Cyril Ramaphosa
“The crisis exists in their mind, in their parties, in their bedrooms, not in Zimbabwe. We have challenges like any other country,” Mnangagwa thundered.
“We will not seek outside mediation to come and deal with challenges they also have. We can never be shaken by social media,” he added.
Mnangagwa also said relations between Zanu PF and the ANC were solid despite the social media frenzy which he said was trying to characterise them as being frosty.
“We have elements peddling falsehoods that Zanu PF and ANC are not in good books … yet I chat with … Ramaphosa almost daily and we laugh off false social media stories.
“Furthermore, the solidarity between our party Zanu PF and sister revolutionary parties and governments in the region continues to be our line of defence against detractors who are bent on reversing the gains of our independence through neo-colonial narratives,” Mnangagwa said further.
This comes as the ANC this week also praised Zanu PF for allowing it to meet with the opposition and civil society groups in future — a decision which it described as “constructive”.
Ramaphosa, apart from sending an ANC delegation to Zimbabwe, has also appointed his own special envoys who met Mnangagwa in the capital last month, as part of South Africa’s push to help its neighbour to emerge from its long-standing crises.
Meanwhile, a group comprising mainly United States diplomats and academics, is putting pressure on South Africa to end Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges.
The group, referred to as the Zimbabwe Working Group, said Zimbabwe’s crises would only be ended by dialogue and reforms, and not repression.
“The government of South Africa should continue to insist that … Ramaphosa’s special envoys meet with civil society, including labour unions and religious leaders and journalists in addition to the … MDC Alliance … and include the party in any ensuing dialogue.
“South Africa should leverage their unique position leading the African Union (AU) and a seat on the UN Security Council to ensure that the deteriorating human rights situation, as well as the underlying causes of Zimbabwe’s crisis, receive global attention and are expeditiously addressed,” the group said.
“The African Union should raise its voice in response to the growing crisis, not provide a whitewash for Zanu PF, and support South Africa’s efforts to engage all parties.
“These steps would make clear to Zanu PF that only an end to repression and respect for human rights can put Zimbabwe back on a track towards peace, democracy and renewed development.
“Reform, not repression, is the answer in Zimbabwe,” the group added.
All this comes as the government has been accused of launching a brutal crackdown against the organisers of the thwarted July 31 mass protests.
Rights groups have claimed that dozens of opposition figures and activists have been tortured and assaulted in a retributive exercise by suspected security agents.
On its part, the government has refuted the allegations — claiming instead that the opposition is working with foreigners to destabilise the country.
On Wednesday, Mnangagwa hailed his party’s engagement with the ANC — while also repeating his calls for dialogue among Zimbabweans to engender local peace.
“This morning (Wednesday) I was pleased to receive a delegation from the Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations which comprised the leadership of the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, Catholic bishops, Zimbabwe Council of Churches and the indigenous churches.
“Dialogue must be encouraged throughout all inceptions of our society in the spirit of constructive engagement, among others.
“This is the culture of the second republic, of national building … peace… harmony … unity and love as we develop the Zimbabwe we love,” Mnangagwa said.
MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa
The meeting with clerics, especially the Catholic bishops, came after they issued sharp criticism of the government’s handling of the foiled July 31 mass protests.
In particular, the Catholic bishops’ letter — in which they said “the march is not ended”, was not received well by the government, which issued a strong warning against clerics dabbling in politics.
Earlier this month, Mnangagwa also said the country’s deepening challenges required unity of purpose among all Zimbabweans to mitigate them.
Speaking at a Polad meeting, he said the door remained open for MDC Alliance leader 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.

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