SENIOR STAFF WRITER
OPPOSITION leader Douglas Mwonzora, pictured, yesterday urged 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 late founding father of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai.
Speaking on the third anniversary of Tsvangirai’s death, Mwonzora also said the much-loved former prime minister in the stability-inducing 2009 government of national unity (GNU) would have embraced dialogue again, to help end Zimbabwe’s decades-long myriad challenges.
This comes as efforts to have President Emmerson Mnangagwa, Mwonzora and Nelson Chamisa engage each other have gathered momentum — with the church now having presented the three men with a draft national talks framework.
“Tsvangirai was never driven by hate or bitterness. He easily forgave those who had humiliated him, betrayed him and stolen from him.
“His primary concern was the home good. He understood the concept that he was because we were.
“So deep was his heart that even at the time of his death he was forging working relations with people who had betrayed him. For him political fights were never permanent,” Mwonzora said.
“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 further.
“During the GNU, the social, political and economic life of every Zimbabwean changed for the better. Our people were able to access and afford basic necessities of life.
“Schools and hospitals got better resourced than before. The international community poured millions into Zimbabwe in form of support.
“Our country experienced relative peace and we were able to craft a new people-driven constitution … It is this virtue of putting people and country above self that we should emulate,” Mwonzora added.
The highly-regarded new opposition leader said through dialogue, the MDC intended to bring social, political and economic reforms to the country again.
“It is undeniable that at this time Zimbabwe finds itself mired and enmeshed in a serious multi-faceted crisis.
“This includes a serious challenge of the economy, grinding poverty, unemployment, corruption, capital flight, international isolation and perennial problems of contested legitimacy.
“We need to save our people from this quagmire. In order to achieve this, the MDC … has chosen dialogue, tolerance and peaceful co-existence as the mainstay of its political strategy,” Mwonzora also said.
“The aim of the dialogue is not self-aggrandisement on the part of the leaders. Rather, it is to achieve that which is in the best interest of our people.
“This dialogue must be inclusive, genuine and unconditional. Through it, we aim to find solutions to transform Zimbabwe into the social, political and economic paradise of Africa,” he added.
Meanwhile, National Constitutional Assembly (NCA) leader Lovemore Madhuku, who was the guest speaker at yesterday’s memorial, also praised Tsvangirai for working with people of diverse opinions.
“I was close to Tsvangirai. He was someone who was good on five things — unity of purpose, courage of conviction, love of the people, openness to engagement with all actors in the political arena, and he was also good on not allowing political differences to poison personal love of each other,” he said.
Madhuku also chronicled how he had worked with Tsvangirai to form the NCA, and how the former PM had engaged him to write the constitution of the MDC before its launch in 1999.
Tsvangirai lost his valiant battle with cancer of the colon on February 14 in 2018 — with his death creating a vicious power struggle in the MDC, which ended up with Chamisa controversially ascending to the leadership of the party.
However, the High Court later nullified both his ascendancy and previous appointment as one of Tsvangirai’s deputies — leaving Thokozani Khupe as the MDC’s interim leader.
The Supreme Court later also upheld that 2019 High Court ruling, leading to the holding of an extra-ordinary congress last December, where Mwonzora emerged as the country’s new opposition leader.
Since assuming the reins, Mwonzora has been preaching politics of love and forgiveness, which has endeared him to a large cross section of strife-weary Zimbabweans.
On Friday, Mnangagwa praised the MDC for its change of attitude towards the government — in the latest remarks by the country’s leaders suggesting a welcome and progressive mellowing of national politics.
Speaking at this year’s first meeting of Polad, Mnangagwa also reiterated his readiness to engage with all opposition forces — emphasising, however, that this would only happen under the auspices of the Polad platform.
“On political developments that have occurred since our last meeting, the government is encouraged by the patriotic stance towards constructive dialogue taken by the MDC … as the official opposition.
“We remain ready to engage with all political parties through the multi-party Polad forum for the good of the country,” Mnangagwa said during the virtual meeting.
“The reforms that we have collectively implemented cannot be ignored. These have undoubtedly brought new socio-economic opportunities and new political realities.
“Some people may differ with our approach, which is justifiable and permissible in any democracy. However, such differing opinions should never be divisive or be against the national interest.
“Neither should these seek to sabotage or make a nullity of the collective will of the majority,” Mnangagwa said further.
“As individuals, groupings or organisations, the overarching interest of the people of Zimbabwe must supersede sectional or personal interests.
“This spirit must cut across all sectors and more importantly in our grassroots population. For it is at that level that a strong, firm, resilient and sustainable national foundation should be anchored,” he added.
This came as Mwonzora and the MDC said they were amenable to being part of Polad — as long as the platform was broadened to include other key stakeholders such as the church and civil society organisations.
On the other hand, Chamisa has consistently dismissed Polad — insisting that talks should be between himself and Mnangagwa only.
However, his deputy Tendai Biti and top ally Jameson Timba have stated recently that the MDC Alliance is still keen to have talks with Mnangagwa, without conditions.