BY BLESSED MHLANGA
PROSPECTS of dialogue seen as the only solution in settling Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises are gloomy because of “selfishness and egotism” being exhibited by Zanu PF and opposition MDC Alliance leaders, the main political players in the country, church leaders have said.
The Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations (ZHOCD) on Tuesday said President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Zanu PF did not want to talk to Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance, because it viewed such a move as a sign of weakness on its part.
The ZHOCD executive met Mnangagwa and Chamisa separately on September 16 last year as part of efforts to bring the two protagonists to the negotiating table, but was struck by the selfishness of the political leaders.
The church also noted that Zanu PF was not willing to engage in dialogue because it would be viewed as an admission of failure to run the country.
“While at first there were many contradicting responses, the two main political parties, MDC and Zanu PF rejected the proposal on two grounds: the first one being that the proposal was unconstitutional, and the second one questioning the detailed implementation modalities,” the churches said in a statement yesterday.
“With time, many who gave it further reflection realised that it was possible to implement the Sabbath Call constitutionally, and that there were many implementation possibilities, only if there was political will. Such requisite political will was hampered by the concern from the ruling party that accepting the proposal would appear to be an admission of failure.”
ZHOCD said the MDC Alliance sees dialogue as a pressure valve, which if open, would let out steam and give relief to Zanu PF.
“The main opposition was concerned that an open embrace of such a proposal could give a ‘lifeline to the ruling party like they did during the GNU (2009-2013).’
“Looked at it from this perspective, it was clear that the proposal was rejected for political expediency and not for the sake of healing the nation.”
Pressure has been mounting for Mnangagwa and Chamisa to dialogue to end the economic and political crises in the country after the 2018 controversial polls won by the Zanu PF leader, but rejected by the opposition.
Mnangagwa formed the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform with fringe parties that participated in the 2018 elections but Chamisa refused to be part of it.
The church is worried that without talks to find common ground, attaining peace in the country will be impossible after police recently warned that the 2023 general elections could be marred by violence.
“The ZHOCD argues that without a certain level of consensus among key stakeholders and the broader citizenry, the efforts by the governing party to realize true peace, unity, justice and prosperity for all our people, will be futile, not only now but also in the future,” the churches said.
Following renewed calls for dialogue, the MDC-T led by Douglas Mwonzora, accused of being a Zanu PF project by Chamisa’s backers, said deep-seated personal egos and ambitions were the biggest obstacles to dialogue.
“We must conquer our own prejudices, we must divest ourselves of our own hatred against each other, we must defeat ourselves and in that regard, we shall succeed,” Mwonzora said.
Zanu PF has insisted that it is open to talks on condition that such talks happen under the Polad umbrella and it has also insisted that Chamisa should concede electoral defeat.
A few weeks ago, Chamisa’s deputy Tendai Biti said the opposition party was open to talks with Zanu PF although it was not ready to have the MDC-T on the same table.