Official opposition leader not Chamisa-law, it is institutional – Government

Mnangagwa’s spokesman George Charamba

HARARE – President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s creation of a formal “Office of the Leader of the Opposition” is not a personal accommodation for any particular individual, but rather about long-term institution-building in line with the Second Republic’s ethos of strengthening democracy in Zimbabwe.

The Head of State and Government wants to establish an Office of the Leader of the Opposition, which is in line with Commonwealth practices as Zimbabwe edges closer to re-joining that international organisation.

Beyond that, creation of the office is geared towards fostering greater political inclusivity in the country’s governance and enhancing Government’s operations by presenting it with a robust checks-and-balances.

This was said by Deputy Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet (Presidential Communications) Mr George Charamba in an interview in New York yesterday, where President Mnangagwa is attending the 73rd Ordinary Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Mr Charamba said President Mnangagwa had raised the matter of an Office of the Leader of the Opposition in a meeting with United Kingdom Minister of State for Africa Harriett Baldwin at the UN Headquarters on Monday.

Zimbabwe’s leader met the British official for the second time this year as relations between the two countries continue to thaw after nearly two decades of acrimony.

Minister Baldwin congratulated President Mnangagwa on his July 30 Presidential election victory, before the pair proceeded to discuss enhancement of bilateral ties, public and private sector support for Zimbabwe’s economic turnaround, the Lima debt clearance process and security co-operation.

Mr Charamba said, “Another key matter that arose in the meeting between the President and Madam Baldwin was that of Zimbabwe re-joining the Commonwealth. The Commonwealth has already sent an assessment team to check our readiness in terms of political parameters for readmission into the organisation.

“The latest indications are that the team seems positive that Zimbabwe qualifies for resumption of membership.

“The President briefed the minister in terms of efforts aimed at enhancing political inclusion to harmonise our systems with the Commonwealth, including to have the Office of the Leader of the Opposition recognised and incorporated in the governance architecture.

“Let me emphasise this: the President is focused on institution building rather than accommodating an individual. A clear distinction must be made between institution-building for inclusive, sustainable democracy and accommodating an individual, who happens at this point in time to be Nelson Chamisa (MDC Alliance leader).

“In any case, who is to say that come 2023 Chamisa will be the leader of that opposition formation as it is constituted today? Whether he is there or not, the office will be there.”

Mr Charamba continued: “The real focus of the President is to build institutions that make real the ethos of the Second Republic, not just as a claim but as a whole bundle of rules and an architecture of institutions that mark a break from our politics since 1980.

“The disposition of the current leader of the opposition is ultimately immaterial to permanent institutions of State because this is not about individuals.

“That said, it is hoped that Mr Chamisa will see the value of allowing the country to move forward in amity and unity so that we can all focus on the real question of the day, which is the economy.”