Farirai Machivenyika and Tendai Mugabe
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki has endorsed broad-based dialogue after meeting all key players in Zimbabwe’s negotiations framework, the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) yesterday.
Mr Mbeki met the members to discuss ways and options that could help the country move forward from the current economic challenges.
His meeting yesterday dispelled a bilateral arrangement between Zanu-PF and MDC-Alliance that was being pushed for by MDC-Alliance leader Mr Nelson Chamisa.
On Monday, Mr Mbeki met President Mnangagwa at State House after which he held another meeting with Mr Chamisa.
POLAD brings together political parties that had presidential candidates in the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections and was initiated by President Mnangagwa at the beginning of the year.
When he met the President, Mr Mbeki said he was ready to assist Zimbabwe in resolving the prevailing challenges and urged Sadc to assist the country.
After meeting Mr Mbeki yesterday, POLAD members told The Herald that the former South African leader sought to know how the initiative was helping resolve the country’s challenges.
Said MDC-T president Ms Thokozani Khupe: “Our discussions with former President Thabo Mbeki were around how to move this country forward and we realise that we can only move the country forward by uniting as Zimbabweans and speaking with one voice.
“We want everyone to have a better life in this country and this can only come when people come together and start talking to one another. These are the issues we discussed with President Mbeki and we agreed that as political players in this country, let us come together, let us speak with one voice, let us move our country forward because the people of Zimbabwe matter than any other person.”
Her deputy, Mr Obert Gutu echoed similar sentiments, saying:“President Thabo Mbeki wanted us to fill him in on what POLAD is doing since it was formally launched in May, 2019. He also wanted to hear from us what our suggestions were in order to move Zimbabwe forward and to help alleviate the prevailing socio-economic challenges that are ravaging the lives of the majority of the people of Zimbabwe.
“We articulated our vision as POLAD, emphasising that as POLAD we are focused on pursuing constructive, but robust and frank discussions with Government officials, starting from the President himself, His Excellency Emmerson Mnangagwa. We continue to engage the Government in order to ensure that the lives of the ordinary people are made more bearable.
“In particular, because of relentless lobbying by POLAD, the Government agreed to put back subsidies on the prices of basic commodities such as mealie-meal. As POLAD, we are also very clear and unequivocal on the urgent need to immediately remove sanctions on Zimbabwe since they have caused and continue to cause untold suffering to ordinary people rather than the Zanu-PF ruling elite.”
Mr Gutu said they advised Mr Mbeki that as POLAD, they were engaging the Government to ensure corruption was decisively dealt with.
“We are also strongly advocating the adoption of clear and well-defined political, electoral and media reforms in order to strengthen and enhance democracy in Zimbabwe,” he said.
National Constitutional Assembly leader Professor Lovemore Madhuku said discussions on the country’s future should not be confined to a few individuals and political parties.
“The main point that is coming out is that the problems of this country cannot be solved by one party, two parties or three,” he said.
“They can only be solved by all political players, all political actors, every Zimbabwean who is interested in progress. We deal with economic challenges, we deal with political and electoral reforms. Those are the issues that we were discussing.”
People’s Democratic Party president Ms Lucia Matibenga said the discussion’s focus was on achieving a better life for all Zimbabweans.
“A better life for all Zimbabweans is the ultimate goal, it’s not about positions in a GNU,” Ms Matibenga said.
MDC-T’s Priscillah Misihairabwi-Mushonga welcomed the involvement of Mr Mbeki to resolve the country’s challenges.
She said Mr Mbeki had been involved with the issue of Zimbabwe and knew what the country went through.