Kudakwashe Mugari Deputy News Editor
PRESIDENT Mnangagwa says doors for national dialogue are still open, after he has taken several steps to ensure inclusivity and engagement by Zimbabweans since he took over leadership after winning last year’s elections.
President Mnangagwa invited national leaders to dialogue, extending the offer to the main losing candidate, Mr Nelson Chamisa of the Movement for Democratic Change-Alliance.
Currently, national dialogue is being convened under the aegis of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), which comprises leaders and parties that contested last year’s elections, on the back of President Mnangagwa’s interfaces with various groupings including youth, women, churches and the civil society.
And in response to a pastoral letter from church leaders dated August 9, which The Herald saw yesterday, President Mnangagwa assured the Zimbabwe Council of Churches and heads of denominations that he had taken steps to entrench the spirit of dialogue in the country.
‘‘As the ZHOCD (Zimbabwe Heads of Christian Denominations) would be aware, the National Dialogue of all political parties in our country was called and initiated on the 6th February 2019.
“Before then, on 2nd August 2018 soon after the historic July, 2018 harmonised elections and the unfortunate violence that followed, I, as leader of ZANU-PF, and as the President-elect, called for harmony and dialogue in our nation including pointedly calling on, and inviting the leader of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), Advocate Nelson Chamisa, to come on board in amity and brotherhood, to rebuild our broken peace and to
re-unite our people in order to take our nation forward. Specifically, and pointedly, I called upon the two of us to ‘lead by example and show Zimbabweans that peace is paramount’.
‘‘Beyond that particular call, I also offered to take steps towards officially recognising Advocate Chamisa as the Leader of the Opposition, the first ever such move and in conformity with Commonwealth practice. Sadly, both my personal calls to him, and all political leaders and parties of our nation regardless of status, went unheeded, and are still to be reciprocated by the MDC leader.
‘‘To date, eight meetings on National Political Dialogue involving 19 political parties and leaders have taken place with the Inaugural Dialogue Summit having been launched in Harare on 17th May, 2019. Significantly on 8th March, 2019, just a day before your pastoral call, thematic committees of the National Dialogue had met at State House, again without the participation of the MDC and its leadership.
“Since then, the National Dialogue has consensually appointed two convenors, one who is a retired judge and the other who is a chairperson of the Gender Commission which is appointed through Parliament. The two’s stature as impartial convenors of the National Dialogue can hardly be gainsaid,’’ the Head of State and Government said.
President Mnangagwa said he will not tire to make peace pleas adding that the doors for dialogue are still open.
‘’At commemorations of Heroes and Defence Forces Day, I again made a passionate call for national dialogue and national unity for the sake of peace and progress of our nation. The MDC leader is still to requite my goodwill, so repeatedly and unconditionally expressed and extended. Much worse, he is still to respect the legitimate will of the Zimbabwean people, as expressed in the results of the 2018 Harmonised Elections, which the MDC unsuccessfully contested through the Constitutional Court. Repeatedly, the rhetoric from the MDC is one of threatening to overturn the constitutional order ushered in by these internationally observed Harmonised Elections,” President Mnangagwa said.
He is calling for unconditional dialogue.
‘‘The doors of National Dialogue are still open to all political leaders including to the leader of the MDC, which dialogue must proceed without preconditions or any sense of preferential entitlement or recognition on any one’s part, including myself. We are all equal, important and useful in finding solutions to challenges facing our nation,’’ President Mnangagwa said
Turning to constitutional rights, President Mnangagwa noted that Section 59 of the Zimbabwe Constitution guarantees every person the right to demonstrate and present petitions to the governing authorities but these rights must be exercised peacefully.
“This right, which your pastoral letter correctly highlights, has a particular bearing on the MDC as they prepare and embark on their demonstration tomorrow,” he said.
The opposition party is planning what is largely feared to be a violent and destabilising demonstration tomorrow.