HARARE – Thabo Mbeki has warned Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa that confronting the country’s political and economic challenges might not be possible without reaching out to opposition rival, Nelson Chamisa.
The former South African president who has mediated in political crises in Zimbabwe, Ivory Coast, the DRC and Sudan, says Mnangagwa needs “maximum unity” in Zimbabwe to achieve economic targets he has set himself.
In candid remarks made in an interview with the SABC, Mbeki spoke about the developing crises in Malawi and Zimbabwe, saying the depth of the problems in the two countries following disputed elections could only be resolved with the inclusion of the opposition in finding solutions.
“If you look for instance at Zimbabwe, the election outcome was also contested by the MDC. What President Mnangagwa has done, which I think is the correct thing, was then to say let’s all of us, all of these parties that contested the elections let’s get together and discuss the future of Zimbabwe,” Mbeki told the SABC.
“The other parties I’m told they agreed but the MDC hasn’t, with the argument that is put forward by the MDC president Nelson Chamisa that they don’t recognise President Mnangagwa as legitimately elected (and) he can’t be the one that convenes it.
“They (MDC) agree in principle to that get-together, but (say) let it be convened by somebody else. So, I’m saying that, I hope that’s going to happen, it’s something that should happen.
“Let them find a way of getting together so that you go through the courts as happened to Zimbabwe and as is happening to Malawi to resolve whatever are the contested things. But after that you must address this matter, because it’s not a matter of, ‘I won the elections and I won the case in court and that’s the end to the matter’.”
Chamisa’s MDC; the NPP led by Joice Mujuru; APA led by Nkosana Moyo and BUILD Zimbabwe led by Noah Manyika are some of the opposition leaders who have refused to attend political dialogue meetings with Mnangagwa, denting the initiative’s credibility and accelerating the country’s economic crisis.
Chamisa, who accuses Mnangagwa of conspiring with the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission and the Constitutional Court to rob him of an election victory last July, insists on an outside mediator mandated by the African Union and the United Nations.
Mbeki, in remarks that appeared targeted at regional body SADC and the AU, said efforts should be made to bring Chamisa and Mnangagwa together as a way of tackling the country’s political and economic paralysis.
“For us who are trying to develop our countries, you need maximum unity in order to address a number of national challenges. So it can’t be enough to say, ‘I won elections and that’s it’,” Mbeki said.
“I’m saying an initiative such as has been taken in Zimbabwe is correct, and I hope Zimbabweans will indeed be able to come together including the MDC. The MDC must be part of that process. It’s important that as a continent we deal with this matter in that way.”