FORTHRIGHT former Cabinet minister, Tshinga Dube, says the push by South Africa President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) to end Zimbabwe’s decades-long political and economic crises rests on them winning support from brawling Zanu PF factions.
Speaking to the Daily News On Sunday in an exclusive interview yesterday, the steadfast Zanu PF politburo member said it would be very difficult for Ramaphosa and the ANC to find a breakthrough in Zimbabwe as long as hardliners in the ruling party and their relatively more moderate counterparts continued to fight over the SA intervention.
This comes as Zanu PF is once again riven with sharp divisions that are similar to those that almost disembowelled the former liberation movement in the last few years in power of the late former president Robert Mugabe — who was later ousted from high office by a stunning and widely popular military coup in November 2017.
“It all starts with the leaders in Zanu PF agreeing that we need dialogue and that South Africa has a critical role to play.
“They need to find common ground on that to make the ANC’s work easier. We can blame this group or that group, but I don’t want to do that because what is important, for the sake of progress, is that they must find each other.
“It is not difficult for the leaders to find each other because they have been working together for quite a long time,” the fearless Dube told the Daily News On Sunday.
“I don’t think it is impossible for them (Zanu PF factions) to do that for the good of the country and our people.
“That is what leadership is all about. If they do not agree and continue like that, then it will be difficult for anyone who wants to help, including the ANC,” he added.
This comes as sharp differences have emerged in Zanu PF over the push by Ramaphosa and the ANC to help end Zimbabwe’s decades-long myriad crises.
Two weeks ago, the former liberation movement’s secretary for external affairs, Simbarashe Mumbengegwi — who is also a former Cabinet minister — pooh-poohed the ANC’s mediation efforts, adding that the SA ruling party had no mandate to meet the local opposition and civil society organisations.
At about the same time, Zanu PF’s secretary for administration, Obert Mpofu, told the Daily News on Sunday that the ruling party was happy for the ANC to meet with the opposition in future, as this was in line with their principles post the 2017 military coup.
But Mumbengegwi told the media that there was no need for the ANC to act as a mediator, because there was “no crisis” in the country.
“The question of a sister party coming to the country of another sister party to establish bilateral relations with the opposition party is unheard of as that can only happen in the context of mediation, and mediation can only occur with the consent of the conflicting parties.
“But where there is no crisis, there is no real need for mediation and, therefore, no purpose will be served by trying to play a mediatory role.
“It is common knowledge that some individuals in our sister party the ANC had been made to believe that there was a crisis in Zimbabwe.
“We are not sure how they became convinced with that. But some of them came here with that notion. However, in our meeting, the notion of a crisis in Zimbabwe was quickly dismissed,” Mumbengegwi said.
On his part, Mpofu said Zanu PF was happy to engage with the opposition and also had no problems with the ANC meeting its rivals.
“You will recall that in 2008 we enabled dialogue to take place between ourselves and the opposition.
“From the very foundation of the second republic under President Emmerson Mnangagwa, we created a far-reaching policy position for sustainable political dialogue through the 1 August violence commission of inquiry.
“This was a ground-breaking precedent to the future of political dialogue in our country.
“Therefore, beyond the ANC’s proposal to engage opposition parties and some civil society organisations working in the service of the regime change agenda is a continuity to the principle of engagement and re-engagement which we have been able to domesticate as part of the post-November 2017 transitional political culture,” Mpofu told the Daily News on Sunday then.
This comes after ANC bigwigs recently visited Harare week for bilateral talks with Zanu PF, which gave them the green light to meet with local opposition groups and other key stakeholders in future.
Briefing the media at the end of the talks, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule said the meeting with Zanu PF had progressed well, as both parties were “frank with each other”.
Dube is among many influential people who are calling on Mnangagwa to initiate much-needed national dialogue in the interests of the country.
Last month, the former military officer repeated his calls for Mnangagwa to hold talks with MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa.
The former War Veterans minister also said that the biggest threat facing Mnangagwa’s rule was the country’s shrinking economy — warning further that rising poverty could drive Zimbabwe into civil strife.
This comes as Mnangagwa, who ascended to power via the popular 2017 military coup has come under growing pressure from long-suffering Zimbabweans over his government’s failure to mend the country’s broken economy.
As a result of Zimbabwe’s worsening rot, Ramaphosa has stepped in to try and end the country’s crises, which have once again attracted international attention — following the government’s alleged breach of human rights during last month’s foiled mass protests.
South Africa and its leaders — including former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma — have in the past successfully mediated Zimbabwe’s political crises.
A decade ago, both Mbeki and Zuma helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between opposition giant Morgan Tsvangirai and former president Robert Mugabe — who are both late — following the hotly disputed 2008 presidential election.
Zuma also assisted in minimising Zimbabwe’s chaotic approach to the equally disputed 2013 national elections.
Both Chamisa and Mnangagwa have previously said that they were interested in dialogue, although nothing concrete has happened — primarily because of differences over the form and platform on which the talks should take place.
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.
Earlier this month, Mnangagwa also said the country’s deepening challenges required unity of purpose among all Zimbabweans to mitigate them.
“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 the political actors dialogue (Polad).