Zimbabwe’s National Dialogue must never be restricted to Political Parties

President Emmerson Mnangagwa

Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition (CiZC) notes President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s call for a national dialogue with political parties that participated during the 2018 national elections, with concern.

By Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition 

As an umbrella body of civic society organizations in Zimbabwe advocating for democratic governance and we reiterate our call for an inclusive process on the national dialogue that brings all stakeholders together beyond political boundaries.

We further clarify that in our view the national dialogue that we continue to call for is not predicated on creating another version of a Global Political Agreement  (GPA) or an elite power sharing deal. We reiterate that our envisaged national dialogue should be a reform process that seeks to safeguard the interest of citizens by restoring the Social Contract between the citizens and those that govern.

In this regard, we hold the firm view that the national dialogue process must never be restricted to political parties but should rather bring on board a cross section of stakeholders that include civic society, labour, women, youth, person living disabilities, farmers, media, students, the diaspora, religious groups and business among other critical stakeholders.

Restricting the dialogue process to political parties will only create a political pact that excludes the concerns of ordinary citizens. This therefore underlines the importance of an accepted by all stakeholders and guarantor at the African Union or United Nations level.

We reiterate that efforts at arresting the multifaceted crisis facing the country must be hinged on a competitive national dialogue process which is seated on broad citizenry issues. We also raise our concerns over a national dialogue process that is facilitated by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission on the basis of the following:

  1. NPRC Commissioners are appointees of the President and save at his mercy who in this case is a conflicted party
  2. The commission has, despite repeated calls and need, failed to rollout tangible national reconciliation initiatives
  3. The issues at stake require an accepted and un-conflicted party to play the mediator role and a continental or international guarantor

We further call on the president to prove his sincerity by ensuring that the Zimbabwe has a conducive environment for holding an inclusive dialogue process in the wake of state sponsored terror that has increased fear level amongst citizens. To create a conducive environment and as part of confidence and trust building in the national dialogue, the government must immediately meet the following conditions:

  1. End torture, abductions and enforced disappearances, murder, rape and maiming civilians by the military, state security agents and ruling party vigilante groups
  2. Decriminalize the work of civic society and end the continued persecution and arbitrary arrests of civic society leaders
  3. Ensure that peace and human security to prevail to allow for all stakeholder to freely express their views on the national dialogue process
  4. Unconditional release of all political prisoners and return Zimbabwe to the rule of law
  5. The attack on Chapter 12 institutions must cease and independent constitutional bodies should be allowed to discharge their mandate without undue interference from the state and other conflicted parties
  6. Promote fair media coverage for all stakeholders and allow divergent views to be shared on all media platforms. Tolerance to divergence is the hallmark of enriching the national dialogue process

We reiterate that efforts at arresting the multi faceted crisis facing the country are hinged on a proper inclusive national dialogue process that seeks to put the concerns of ordinary citizens on board.

Addressing the Zimbabwean crisis implies addressing the concerns of the ordinary citizens who have had to bear the brutal effects of an economic meltdown stemming from a constitutional and legitimacy crisis.

Government needs to honour its social protection obligations and this is achievable through wide consultations hence the need for an inclusive process.

On our part as Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition, we have set our minimum demands for the national dialogue process based on wider consultations with our membership around the country.

Our demands are highlighted below:

On the process:

1)    It is our conviction that the national dialogue process must involve all stakeholders and a national visioning process that has civil society, government, political parties, business, religious groups and labour unions among other critical stakeholders. The dialogue process should produce a clearly timed roadmap to the demilitarisation of civilian political processes and the restoration of normalcy by focusing on key political, economic and social reforms. In this regard, we call for FULL CONSULTATION of all stakeholders rather than cosmetic processes.

On the Economy:

2)    It is imperative to arrest the economic downturn in Zimbabwe based on a clear reform roadmap and implementation of pro-poor and inclusive economic policies. Efforts at economic transformation, stabilisation and growth should be aimed at achieving inclusive sustainable economic growth and development.

On Constitutionalism, Rule of Law, Human Rights and Human Security:

3)    The Government of Zimbabwe must uphold and guarantee citizens’ rights as enshrined in the Zimbabwean Constitution and other regional and international human rights treaties and statutes. Full implementation of the country’s constitution is equally important in promoting democracy in Zimbabwe.

4)    The Government of Zimbabwe must respect the fundamental right of access to information, freedom of expression as well as freedom of association.

5)    There is need to immediately operationalise a comprehensive programme on national healing, reconciliation and nation building that will depolarise society and entrench the respect for diversity, inclusion and tolerance in all facets of life.

6)    The army must desist from partisan politics and confide themselves to the barracks. There is an imperative need to de-militarise the Zimbabwean state.

7)    There is need for non-interference into the work of institutions that support democracy. This again calls for full implementation and respect of the country’s constitution. Also, government must not be seen to be criminalising the work of civic society organisations.

8)    CiZC holds the firm view that implementation of electoral reforms is critical as a way of doing away with disputed elections that often result in a legitimacy crisis which comes with negative impacts on democracy and economic development