Mugabe set to meet Tsvangirai for talks

Itai Dzamara

FATHER Fidelis Mukonori of the Catholic Church says President Mugabe will soon meet MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai to break the political impasse gripping the country.



NT face=”Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>In a wide-ranging interview with the Zimbabwe Independent this week, Mukonori, who has been involved in shuttle diplomacy between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, said he had made contact with Zanu PF and the MDC to find a solution to the “agonisingly multifaceted” Zimbabwean crisis.


“Indeed Mugabe and Tsvangirai will be meeting soon,” he said. “Why can’t they meet when they are both Zimbabweans? They still have a key role to play in the quest for a solution to the current problems.”


He declined to divulge details of the meetings saying it would compromise his “role as an honest mediator”. He however said Mugabe and Tsvangirai would be meeting soon.


The tough-talking Jesuit priest said he had a long history as a mediator. “Since 1974, I have always been involved in social communication and social justice as a mediator or in other capacities, and I still perform that role,” said Mukonori.


“I am involved in efforts to make Zimbabweans bury their differences, become mature and find solutions to this agonising crisis,” he said.


Mukonori said the resumption of dialogue between the two political rivals would set the stage for an end to the crisis.


“The solution will come as soon as we as Zimbabweans want it, as soon as people put the country ahead of everything and share the same spirit of love and understanding,” he said.


“Finding a solution is much easier when people have the same perspective. Everyone, right across age, political divide, culture and social status should be involved in solving this crisis. We have done it before and nothing can fail us.”


Talks between the two parties collapsed last year due to bickering over issues to be discussed. Zanu PF has insisted that the MDC drop its court challenge to Mugabe’s controversial re-election last year. On the other hand the opposition wants the issue of Mugabe’s illegitimacy to be tackled as a way forward.


On the nature of settlement envisaged between Zanu PF and the MDC, Mukonori said it would be up to the politicians. He however mooted the possibility of a government of national unity as a first step to a transitional mechanism.


“It is up to them (Mugabe and Tsvangirai). It is possible to establish a government of national unity. In life there are no permanent enemies. As Zimbabweans they will meet one day,” he said.


Mukonori said Zimbabwe’s crisis was a result of economic, political and social failures. As such, he said, the search for a solution must focus on all these.


“The agony which we are suffering resulted from many causes. There are issues of economic policies, governance and historical perspective,” he said.


“Indeed, the land issue has always been part of the problem and still is. It is yet to be finalised. We don’t have to focus on one person or problem in our search for solutions. We have to tackle all the problems in our focus.”


Mukonori played a major mediating role during the liberation struggle under the Catholic Commission for Justice and Peace. He was also instrumental in brokering the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu and PF-Zapu to end an orgy of civilian massacres in the Midlands and Matabeleland in the early 80s.