Tendai Mugabe Senior Reporter
Political parties that fielded presidential candidates in the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections yesterday met at State House in Harare and committed themselves to the principle of dialogue and working together to resolve challenges facing the country.
Out of 23 parties that fielded presidential candidates in the internationally-observed harmonised elections, 21 were represented.
Only MDC-Alliance — led by Mr Nelson Chamisa — and the Republican Party from Bulawayo failed to show up, confirming that Zimbabwe as a nation was ready to engage itself to solve a myriad problems it is facing.
The dialogue was part of an expansive berth that President Mnangagwa has given to engage all stakeholders, including the Church and civil society, to confront the national question.
And yesterday, the President described the occasion as historic as it affirmed political maturity among Zimbabweans.
The parties agreed that there should be no precondition for dialogue and that there should be no sacred issues during the discussions.
Further, it was agreed that both political and economic reforms should be implemented while politically-motivated violence should be shunned.
Other salient issues such as the continued imposition of sanctions on the country by the West rallied the Zimbabwean leaders.
Four committees were set up, with the first one focusing on the institutional framework of the dialogue, while the second would deal with the agenda items for the dialogue.
The third committee was going to determine the convenor of the dialogue, while the fourth one would be responsible for monitoring and evaluating the implementation of the agreed issues.
Welcoming participants, President Mnangagwa said Zimbabweans had the right to chart their destiny with outsiders only coming in to assist.
He said he invited other parties to a national dialogue in fulfilment of his pledge during his inauguration that he would engage and consult fellow presidential aspirants on ways to move the country forward.
“We owe it to ourselves as Zimbabweans to raise our country higher up the pecking order of nations,” said President Mnangagwa.
“Outsiders can only come in to assist us but the prime responsibility for our country’s development remains ours. This is what sovereignty means. Moreover, true peace can never be imposed from outside, but must come from within our own society, and can be nurtured by us on the seedbed of dialogue, honesty and mutual respect. It is my hope that this inaugural dialogue by our political parties will provide a firm foundation upon which together and without undue foreign interference, we can build the Zimbabwe we all want.”
President Mnangagwa said no individual had a monopoly over ideas thus people should close ranks as Zimbabweans and unite towards the common goal of developing the country.
Commenting on how the dialogue should proceed, President Mnangagwa said all parties should accept the results of the July 30, 2018 harmonised elections as a legitimate expression of the will of the people of Zimbabwe.
He said all political parties should take a stand against the illegal sanctions imposed on the country and the call for their removal should be an all-party affair.
Said President Mnangagwa: “With unity at home and successful re-engagement abroad, Zimbabwe is an attractive destination for domestic and foreign direct investment. Admittedly, there are key reforms which we need to embark upon, which is where all of us come in to proffer ideas both for reforms and to make ourselves more attractive for investment. I challenge all of us to come up with ideas that can take our country forward. As leaders of our political parties, our gathering together today is a milestone, which should always remind us of the supremacy of dialogue over conflict and of collaboration over confrontation, as instruments for nation building, As for me, I sincerely look forward to the sage advice and healthy exchange of views from all of you brothers and sisters.”
After the meeting, which lasted several hours, President Mnangagwa said: “I think this interaction or consultation between the leaders of the political parties which participated in the 2018 harmonised elections was overdue. I am sure you listened as I explained at the beginning the consummation of this meeting. However I am happy that we have been able to come together as Zimbabwean political parties to discuss issues affecting our country in particular in the area of the economy, reforms, political and economic reforms and various views on how political party leaders think we should move forward. I am happy that we have come to the conclusion that we need to further come together and interrogate how as a people, as a country can move forward in unity and in peace. Many negative issues have been raised which the political parties would want addressed. I am happy that there was democratic space for every single leader of political parties that have attended to express themselves openly and freely. This is what it should be. I believe that with this beginning we should as we go forward find each other and chart a common course for our country to move together.
President Mnangagwa said he invited all political parties that participated in last year’s elections and those who chose not to attend were exercising their democratic right.
MDC-T leader Ms Thokozani Khupe said: “We must pride ourselves as a country because of the fact that we have managed to come together as opposition parties and the ruling party to chart the way forward in regards to our country and our economy. We are saying we must put our differences aside as political parties and come together so that we talk about moving our country forward. We want a better life for every Zimbabwean. The people of Zimbabwe want food on their tables, they want jobs, they want houses and they want good health and education. We agreed as political parties that we are going dialogue as political parties around these issues so that we find permanent solutions to the problems bedevilling our country.
National Constitutional Assembly leader Professor Lovemore Maduku said: “The purpose of today’s meeting was really to find each other. We are Zimbabweans and as Zimbabweans there can be no harm in meeting from time to time discussing issues we face as a country. The most important issue is to raise the standard of living of our people. As opposition political parties we have a contribution to make as Government has also a contribution to make.”
Chairperson of the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission Justice Selo Nare moderated yesterday’s meeting.