SADC has called for patience and space for dialogue to address the Zimbabwean crisis following a visit by former South African President Thabo Mbeki, who met local political actors including President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa.
Zimbabweans yesterday expressed mixed feelings over Mbeki’s visit that saw him meet some political actors, including the MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe and National Constitutional Assembly president Lovemore Madhuku.
“Fellow Sadc citizens, let us give space to the mediation and let us be supportive,” Sadc executive secretary Stergomena Tax tweeted yesterday.
The MDC, civic society and other stakeholders have been pressing Sadc to intervene to resolve the political gridlock and the Mbeki visit is viewed as the bloc’s reaction to the calls.
Mbeki was at the centre of the talks that led to the Government of National Unity (GNU) under the Global Political Agreement in 2009 that saw the late MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai becoming the country’s Prime Minister and the late Zanu PF leader, Robert Mugabe remaining an executive President.
Political analyst Eldred Masunungure said the Zimbabwe crisis was deeply rooted and the coming in of a possible mediation among political actors was not a holistic solution.
“That is a partial solution and clearly not a full solution. A full solution lies internally because the crisis is multi-faceted, it is multi-dimensional. Political dialogue aspect is only one dimension of a deeply rooted problem,” Masunungure said.
“That is the meagre approach to a big problem. The political subsumes the other dimensions so to start to deal with a bigger problem, I agree it is a political solution that has to be a starting point rather than the economic or re-engagement with the international community or any other. Let us start with the political, I think it kick-starts a very important aspect of the crisis resolution and crisis management approach to a deeply rooted and multi-faceted problem.”
He said though there was no need to be ecstatic, Zimbabweans should not overinvest their confidence in this process.
“It is a route we have travelled before and it registered a remission in the economic crisis and to some extent a political crisis, but it was short-lived and brittle coalition arrangement that quickly unravelled Zanu PF and re-established its dominance on the political scene. We should not over celebrate these initial overtures towards some kind of resolution of a very big problem,” he said.
The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said though they have campaigned to have Sadc involvement in resolving the Zimbabwean crisis, they remain opposed to an elitist approach.
“We have been at the centre of engaging Sadc to assist Zimbabwe deal with the current economic, social and political crisis. We reiterated that Zimbabwe needs a people and issues-driven national dialogue. The dialogue should lead to demilitarisation of State institutions, the respect for democratic principles. It should also lead to depolarisation, political, economic and electoral reforms which alleviate the suffering of the citizens,” the coalition spokesperson Marvellous Khumalo said.
“We are opposed to an elitist process where politicians will meet on their own and focus on power sharing arrangements at the expense of citizens.”
Political analyst Blessing Vava said the initial involvement by Mbeki in Zimbabwean affairs failed to bring in a lasting solution as it was elitist and from the look of things, nothing has changed.
“The framework, as led by Mbeki then, was inadequate to find a solution to our crisis,” Vava said.
“I would have been happy if President Mbeki, in his meetings, had involved non-State actors that is the civil society and the other sectorial interests. We must learn from the experiences of the past, in particular the GNU, when it ended up being an elite pact and a deal between political parties and Zimbabweans were on the receiving end.”
Chamisa took to Twitter after meeting Mbeki saying Zimbabwe was open for meaningful dialogue.
“We want dialogue that is meaningful, where political will to change for the benefit of Zimbabweans outweighs political expediency. Dialogue must deliver true change and real reforms. When we shake hands, let us be agreeing to truly walk in the same direction, a new direction,” Chamisa said.
Madhuku said yesterday’s meeting with Mbeki was to understand how Zimbabwe can be helped to move forward.
“Discussions centred on the former President trying to assist the people of Zimbabwe in whatever way he can in order to approach issues with one common position. In other words how do we move the country forward, how do we address the economic challenges, so he is meeting all the different groups of people just to see how best the country can move forward,” Madhuku said.
“Everyone agrees that the Zimbabwean issues can only be addressed by a dialogue process, so it was obviously part of the discussion so we just contributed our views as political parties in Polad on the way things must move. There was no discussion on GNU as others rushed to say. The ideal situation in Zimbabwe is a situation where all political players, civic leaders, all church leaders all come under one roof to engage.”
Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said the former South African leader was in Zimbabwe for “a purely different case”.
“The coming of former President Mbeki has nothing to do with Polad or any dialogue between those two. He came for a completely different reason not related to that. It is best for him to disclose or state his reasons, but I can authoritatively tell you that those reasons have nothing to do with the dialogue. I can only hint that the reason has something to do with the sanctions against Zimbabwe,” Mangwana said.