Zimbabwe main opposition leader welcomes mediation talks

Former South African President Thabo Mbeki with Zimbabwe main opposition leader MDC-A President Nelson Chamisa

HARARE – MDC leader Nelson Chamisa says his party is committed to a national dialogue that will benefit the country and is willing to shake hands and share a vision with President Emmerson Mnangagwa.

The former president has held separate talks with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa.

Chamisa was speaking after meeting former South African president Thabo Mbeki on Monday evening.

Said Chamisa, “We want dialogue that is meaningful, where the 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.

“Democracy can’t exist without a true commitment to happiness, freedom and peace. Our political impasse cannot continue. We stand firm on the principle that none but ourselves can bring about the true change we need. Real issues affecting us all must be at the heart of any dialogue.”

Chamisa’s spokesperson Dr Nkululeko Sibanda said the meeting between the two politicians set a pace for a working relationship among them.

“Yesterday President Chamisa met with President Thabo Mbeki. The meeting considered a number of contemporary issues and also helped establish a working relationship between the two leaders.” Said Sibanda.

Political analyst Pedzisayi Ruhanya warned the MDC of falling for a GNU and told the party to treat the meeting with Mbeki with suspicion.

Said Ruhanya, “Once beaten, twice shy. The MDC led by should apply its wits in rational, logical, robust, rigorous ways taking into account how it was duped in the GNU President Mbeki brokered that led to MDC crashing defeat in 2013. Never be excitable. Calm down, cool heads

“My view is that it’s both the internal (ZANU PF contradictions with security instability) and external Zimbabwe question of the corruption and decomposition of the political that brings President Mbeki to Zimbabwe. The opposition MDC must therefore treat these overtures carefully!”

Mbeki has held talks with Zimbabwean President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa to try to help end the nation’s political crisis.

Mbeki, in Zimbabwe at Mnangagwa’s invitation, met Chamisa and Mnangagwa separately on Monday and will meet other political leaders on Tuesday, Tendai Biti, a deputy president of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), said by phone from Harare.

The MDC has refused to recognise Mnangagwa as the nation’s legitimate ruler since he was elected president in July 2018, and has called for an outside mediator to help resolve its differences with the governing party.

Zimbabwe is grappling with a drought, power and fuel shortages, and annual inflation estimated at 440%, the second-highest in the world.

“I think it’s very important that the region comes behind the president and the country because the challenges of Zimbabwe are our challenges,” Mbeki was quoted as saying by the state-owned Herald newspaper.

Mbeki mediated in Zimbabwe’s post-election crisis in 2008 between former President Robert Mugabe and then-opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, which resulted in the formation of a five-year power-sharing government.

While the opposition welcomes efforts to end the country’s political crisis, Mbeki doesn’t have a mandate to mediate in the talks, Biti said.

Calls to government spokesperson Nick Mangwana were not  answered when seeking comment.