BY BLESSED MHLANGA/RICHARD MUPONDE
THE opposition MDC Alliance says it is ready to begin talks with Zanu PF to find lasting political and economic solutions for Zimbabwe but is not keen to deal with a rival faction led by its former secretary-general.
MDC Alliance vice-president Tendai Biti told NewsDay that they were ready for talks with Mnangagwa, whom they accuse of stealing the 2018 elections as calls for dialogue between the country’s main political parties gather momentum.
“We are prepared to talk to them without any conditionality, we haven’t said Emmerson Mnangagwa must cease to be President before we talk to him, we haven’t said that, but having said that, no one can seduce us to accept a lie and accept processes that were against our Constitution,” Biti said.
“The coup of November 2017 and the election of 2018 is fact, but that is not a roadblock to dialogue, and we are ready for dialogue with our friends and compatriots at Zanu PF, because the people of Zimbabwe out there demand that,” he said.
He, however, said his party would not entertain any talks with the MDC-T led by Mwonzora.
“Mwonzora is a creation of Zanu PF, so why should we talk to him? It’s better to talk directly with the power behind him,” he added.
Talks between Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance hit a snag after the opposition queried Mnangagwa’s legitimacy following a highly-contested Presidential result in 2018.
Mnangagwa has insisted that he will only talk with Chamisa if his presidency was not in question.
On the other hand, Chamisa has not recognised Mnanagwa’s Presidency and his MPs have reacted by not standing up in honour of the President whenever he walks into Parliament.
They have also fiercely heckled Mnangagwa, or walked out on him each time he came to address Parliament.
Chamisa has come under fire for lacking decisive leadership and a strategic plan to extricate Zimbabwe from the current challenges.
Biti said while the MDC Alliance maintained its stance against Mnangagwa, talks could resume, adding that the party would not resort to violence.
“We will not accept a situation where the agenda of our struggle is set by players outside the people of Zimbabwe, let the people of Zimbabwe set the agenda. We have balanced and walked a delicate balance between unleashing our people against a deranged psychotic regime that will create a situation that will leave 4 000 to 5 000 people dead,” he said.
“We saw what happened on August 1, 2018. We saw what they did in January of 2019, and so we are going to balance the need to confront and the need to preserve human life.”
Biti said his party would provide leadership and push for change ahead of the 2023 general elections, adding that the centre of the struggle should be the people of Zimbabwe.
“The people of Zimbabwe must know that they are the agency of the change that is required in Zimbabwe, none but ourselves are our own liberators. We have to rise to the occasion, we have to rise to the subjective imperious, that the situation requires, we have to confront this regime. In doing so, I am not calling for violence, we don’t believe in violence, but something must shift, this country is abnormal,” he said.
The former Finance minister said his party was keen to attain democratic change in the country through peaceful means, adding that only talks would resolve the crisis in the country.
“This crisis has been going on for too long. This crisis is affecting generations, and so we need a new disruptive consensus to turn our country out of the morass that has put it into underdevelopment, corruption and conflict. We need to put it into a new path of development, and inclusivity,” Biti said
Zanu PF party spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said the ruling party was prepared to engage the MDC Alliance as long as the dialogue was held under the banner of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad).
Polad is a grouping of fringe parties which participated and lost in the 2018 plebiscite whose results the MDC Alliance disputed, accusing Mnangagwa of stealing the election.
“Isn’t there is a platform which was created for dialogue? Why would they want to meet us separately? Are they a special breed? They are a party in opposition and they should come as a group with other opposition parties. If we are to entertain every opposition party individually, how many are they, and how many meetings are we going to hold? They should explain why they don’t want to come to meet us at Polad, we need to hear that. But yes, we are ready to meet them as long as they come to Polad.
“The economy and the COVID-19 fight should take centre stage. We should not expend time on wayward politics, but focus on production and food security.
There must be a total war against this pandemic because it doesn’t choose which party one belongs to,” Moyo said.
“These other talks should find their own time. The key thing as Zanu PF is concentrating on production since the rains are upon us and fighting COVID-19. Let us, as a nation, unite and focus on urgent matters. These two are really urgent. The political war was won in 1980 and it’s now politics of the stomach so as to make sure that our people are food secure.”
He also urged the MDC Alliance to come on board to fight what he termed the “economic war” facing the country, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic, which he said were the urgent matters that needed to be resolved, rather than politics.
MDC-T deputy party spokesperson Khaliphani Phugeni said: “As you know, we are the MDC-T, a party in opposition with current Members of Parliament in the august House, and with a programme of action. We are readying ourselves for by-elections and I think Zanu PF will also field its own candidates. As for Biti’s comments, nothing can be further than the truth. He is politicking.”