BY NUNURAI JENA
President Emmerson Mnangagwa yesterday called for engagement among Zimbabweans to move the country forward, a call seen as an appeal for political dialogue with his rival Nelson Chamisa who heads the opposition MDC party, to solve the economic crisis facing the country.
Conceding that he was digressing from his prepared remarks in Chinhoyi yesterday while officiating
at his monthly clean-up campaign, Mnangagwa said the country was on a “treacherous” journey.
“The problems that we have as a country can be overcomed if we unite; getting along together and speaking to one another about our problems, we will get to our destination together and help those who stray away from others,” Mnangagwa said.
He was speaking before he presided over the graduation ceremony at the Chinhoyi University of Technology (CUT).
“The journey we are travelling is a treacherous journey that is slippery and sometimes goes up and down, but we should get to our destination,” Mnangagwa said.
“No one will get us there, but ourselves. What is needed is unity, peace and love of one another; let’s not hate each other.
“Ndauya kuno nenyaya yetsvina zvino ndanga ndopinda mune zvimwe (I came here for a clean-up exercise, but I was digressing),” he said.
Since Mnangagwa took over as President from long time ruler, the late Robert Mugabe, in November 2017, Zimbabwe’s economic outlook has drastically deteriorated. Inflation has soared to nearly 300%, according to the latest estimates by the International Monetary Fund, invoking fears of a return to the hyperinflation era of 2008.
Shortages of medicines, fuel, some basic goods have become the norm, while the country faces an acute foreign currency shortage. The local currency, introduced in June, is in free-fall, the economy is expected to contract by 3% this year while millions are at risk of hunger after a drought.
There have been calls for dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa since last year’s contested elections won by the Zanu PF leader.
Mnangagwa invited all presidential candidates in last year’s polls for political dialogue, but Chamisa snubbed the process, demanding a neutral mediator. Since then, churches, who have been calling for an all-inclusive dialogue, have tried to get the two together, but with no success.
Reacting to Mnangagwa’s call for unity, MDC deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka said Mnangagwa has had a Damascene moment. He said he hoped that Mnangagwa was “genuine, sincere and honest” on his fresh call for dialogue.
“It appears that light has struck Mnangagwa and we want to believe that this time around he is genuine, honest and sincere,” Tamborinyoka said.
“We have always said that there is no need for Mnangagwa to engage the international community without engaging his brothers and sisters back home. He must, however, be reminded that the issue of legitimacy is paramount in any discussions.”
Mnangagwa said government has released money for service delivery to councils in the country to kick start the devolution process.
“Government has released funds to councils for service delivery, especially for refuse collection and water reticulation” Mnangagwa said.
Chinhoyi mayor Dyke Mukumbi confirmed that council had received about $800 000 from central government and bought water pipes that would help ease water problems in the town.
“Yes, we received $800 000 from central government and we have already bought water pipes to increase daily water allocations to our suburbs and refurbished our boreholes” Mukumbi said.
This was Mnangagwa’s 10th clean-up exercise since the programme started last year.