EUROPEAN Union ambassador to Zimbabwe, Timo Olkkonen, has said only urgent political dialogue between the country’s main political actors will rescue the country from the humanitarian crisis, which has resulted in over seven million people in need of food aid.
BY SIBONGINKOSI MAPHOSA
Addressing a Press conference in Bulawayo on Wednesday, Olkkonen said the country would not go anywhere unless the political actors sat together to dialogue for the benefit of the people.
“Zimbabwe has experienced a lot of issues on the economic front. In the social sector, there are concerning stories about how the economic crisis is having a negative influence on the social fabric. There is an urgent need for political parties to dialogue for the benefit of the people,” he said.
Olkkonen blamed the crisis on a polarised political set-up.
“We have a humanitarian crisis and in order to address this, we must first correct the polarised political situation in the country,” the top EU diplomat said.
Olkkonen said the European bloc could not prescribe how the process takes place.
“We are in favour of having a dialogue going on and that it is comprehensive. But exactly how, we cannot be prescriptive. We will not tell Zimbabweans or their government exactly how they should be doing that,” he said
Opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa on Tuesday said he was committed to genuine dialogue between him and President Emmerson Mnangagwa in order to take Zimbabwe out of the economic quagmire.
Chamisa also said the dialogue should include the military, which is often accused of dabbling in partisan politics.
However, Mnangagwa has refused to dialogue with Chamisa outside the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform comprising fringe political parties which lost the 2018 elections, among them Thokozani Khupe’s MDC-T and Lovemore Madhuku’s NCA.
The EU envoy also urged the Zimbabwean government to implement recommendations of the Kgalema Motlanthe commission of inquiry into the August 1, 2018 post-election violence.
“We are encouraging the government to follow up on the Motlanthe Commission recommendations because they will be pertinent to subsequent events that have been happening in the country,” Olkkonen said.
Among the recommendations is the prosecution of soldiers who fatally shot six civilians in post-election violence on August 1, 2018 as well as the implementation of electoral and political reforms.
He said the government should also respond to the 2018 electoral observer missions recommendations, which he described as low-hanging fruits.
“The recommendations are there. Many of these recommendations are not contested, but it’s been more than a year since the Motlanthe Commission report came out. As EU, we strongly believe that these are low-hanging fruits,” he said.
The EU warned Mnangagwa’s administration that it was running out of time as the next election was by the corner before meeting the recommendations.
“The clock is ticking towards the next election and many of these recommendations require time before implementation,” Olkkonen said.
Several electoral observer missions condemned the July 2018 elections as flawed in various ways, especially the manner in which police officers voted ahead of official polling date and how results were transmitted to the national command centre.