ZIMBABWE is set for a tougher year ahead if political leaders fail to find common ground and tackle the socio-economic crisis that has left the country on a cliff-edge, observers have said.
BY MOSES MATENGA
The country witnessed one of the worst Christmas holidays in memory as many endured the day without water, electricity and cash.
Observers say Zimbabwe’s only hope was for a political solution to the crisis, starting with talks between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero said 2020 would be a defining year for Zimbabwe and the political leaders must do the right thing for the country.
“2020 is a defining year on whether Zanu PF will sink itself and Zimbabwe with the crisis or whether it shall rise to the task and do what everyone expects it to do, reach out to the MDC Alliance and its leader Nelson Chamisa to map the way forward. All realities are pointing to serious negotiations and dialogue desperately needed to rescue Zimbabwe from the current precipice, regardless of pontification and bravado that Zanu PF protagonists otherwise display in public,” Rusero said.
Another analyst Phillan Zamchiya wrote that Mbeki may need to be broad in his push for talks and include civic society and the military.
“I hope when (former South African President Thabo) Mbeki completes his power analysis, he will find the wisdom to include in his dialogue framework civil society and representatives of the commissioned commanders of the Zimbabwe National Army, who wield immense power behind the scenes,” Zamchiya said.
“Most party hardliners across the MDC and Zanu PF will view leaders who compromise with mistrust in such a polarised polity. Not to compromise is seen as improving one’s political profile among die-hard members of the party. Contrary to this is that most of the general supporters who bear the day-to-day suffering of the Zanu PF misrule see democratic compromise as a source of strength, not as a sign of surrendering and signifying end-of-life.”
Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general Japhet Moyo last week said 2019 has been tough for workers and there were no indications that 2020 would be better.
“We are not sure if the majority of workers will be able to pay their fees come January. We have already seen shocking figures coming from schools on what is going to be the fees,” he said.
Mbeki was recently in Zimbabwe to meet all political players and other stakeholders to help break the impasse.
He promised another visit before year end to try and bring the warring parties together, but ever since his departure, Mnangagwa and Chamisa have taken turns to bring lists of conditions before dialogue could commence.
The future remains bleak for university students after their fees were raised from $800 to around $12 000, far beyond the reach of many.
Many who spoke to NewsDay yesterday said there was no option, but to drop out of college.
Mnangagwa has insisted that no dialogue will be held outside the Political Actors Dialogue platform (Polad), while Chamisa has said he will never agree to join the group.
Opposition vice-president Tendai Biti said one of the biggest fights in 2020 would be to stop Zanu PF from amending the Constitution to give more power to the President.
“One of 2020’s biggest fights will be against Zanu PF’s pernicious attempts to amend the Constitution. The creation of an imperial president should be resisted. Presidential authoritarianism and first past the post has failed Africa from Togo, Kenya, Cameroon to Zambia,” he charged.