In 2009, former Prime Minister of Zimbabwe Dr Morgan Richard Tsvangirai appointed the then MDC National Organizing Secretary, Nelson Chamisa to be in charge of Ministry of Information and Communication Technology and served as a cabinet minister until the expiry of the Global Political Agreement (GPA). His tenure as a cabinet minister exuded virtuosity and he won several minister of the year awards. The former President of Zimbabwe Robert Mugabe once described him as a supersonic minister following Chamisa’s successful computerization initiative back then.
Chamisa also served as Member of Assembly for Kuwadzana East and he also did excellent work to develop his constituency which includes successful feedback mechanism in the constituency, the MP scholarship fund for the girl child, computerization and internet connection for Kuwadzana schools and construction of state of the art Kuwadzana library.
Whilst Advocate Chamisa was serving as a cabinet Minister in the Government of National Unity, he shared the same cabinet boardroom at Munhumutapa offices with Emmerson Mnangagwa then Justice Minister before the latter switched to Defense Ministry.
The two used to share some lighter moments in Parliament and they were believed to be only political opponents and not enemies. Videos and images in which the two were joking and laughing together are awash on the internet.
When Mnangagwa and Chamisa took over as leaders of ZANU PF and MDC Alliance respectively, many people hoped the two’s affability could push them to engage in serious talks for the betterment of the ailing nation. Moreover Nelson Chamisa’s lawyer Thabani Mpofu also ‘legitimized’ the November 2017 military coup by representing two applicants at the High Court arguing that the army’s intervention was necessary on the basis that Mugabe could no longer be in a position to make independent decisions and was now acting under his wife Grace’s influence. He won the case. We all thought dialogue between Chamisa and Mnangagwa was inevitable and it seemed people were ready to work together.
My questions which linger unanswered are; what has changed, apart from one being the Head of State, and the other being the main opposition leader in Zimbabwe? Do these two gentlemen need a South African delegation appointed by Cyril Ramaphosa for them to meet in their own country? Does it have to take Thabo Mbeki or Olusegun Obasanjo to come and mediate for them to dialogue?
Mnangagwa argues that Chamisa must recognize him as the legitimate head of state for him to consider him on the negotiating table. On the other hand, Chamisa says the legitimacy issue should form the basis of the dialogue between the two.
Advocate Chamisa and President Mnangagwa need to understand the fact that in a dialogue you have to sacrifice something. No one should expect to win everything in a dialogue hence the need for the two to swallow their pride and negotiate purposefully.
Let me close by saying we need the two leaders right on the same table, and if it means people have to flood the streets, let them do so as this might be the only sagacious protest worthy overwhelming national participation. Prayer warriors on the other hand should go onto the mountains to pray for peace in our country.
On March 9, 2018 Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta and the leader of the main opposition Raila Odinga publicly shook hands and agreed to work together. It did not take the two foreign conciliators to achieve such a commendable milestone. Now there is political stability in Kenya and their economy is growing rapidly and the environment is conducive for investors. Recently Ramaphosa and Julius Malema held a joint press conference calling for unity amongst citizens in the fight against Covid-19 pandemic, an indication they put people first.
I therefore call upon Chamisa and Mnangagwa to start talking to each other. Mnangagwa as the president of the country should put people first and understand that Chamisa is a vital cog in every development of this country and dialogue without Chamisa is a façade.
The two are legal minds and we believe they speak the same language. They must understand they are all Zimbabweans hence their actions should be pro-people. Before the two became the leaders of their respective political parties, they made some remarkable achievements as both government ministers and political leaders.
We want sincere talks between the two political giants and home-grown solutions to scaffold the country for growth and stability. The country is in the middle of an enervating political crisis which can only be resolved through a candid dialogue.
Tinashe Eric Muzamhindo is the Head of Zimbabwe Institute of Strategic Thinking – ZIST and he can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org