PRESIDENT Robert Mugabe said yesterday his ruling Zanu PF was open to talks with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), although he has ruled out a government of national unity
after the election.
Mugabe told journalists after voting in Highfield that it was possible to talk to the MDC in and out of parliament even though they had a number of differences.
Zanu PF and the MDC had been engaged in on and off talks since the hotly disputed presidential election in 2002. Zanu PF’s former politburo member Patrick Chinamasa and MDC secretary-general Welshman Ncube have been engaged in face-to-face talks since 2003 but the overtures invariably collapsed during the process.
South African President Thabo Mbeki and his Nigerian counterpart Olusegun Obasanjo kick-started the rapprochement in April 2002 but failed to move it forward.
Mugabe’s revival of hopes of talks came as a local civic organisation warned that resolving Zimbabwe’s crisis after yesterday’s parliamentary election would be an arduous task as long as Zanu PF and the MDC remain poles apart.
Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition said the divergent position of Zanu PF and the MDC, which militated against a negotiated settlement three years ago, would block attempts to bring back the two parties to the negotiating table.
“A solution to Zimbabwe’s multifaceted crisis is difficult to achieve given the current rift between the two main political parties, Zanu PF and the MDC,” the group said.
The group, which claims to represent 350 civic organisations, said the standoff between the United States and South Africa over how to resolve the Zimbabwe crisis did not help matters.
“The rift is exacerbated by the US and SA standoff. It seems Zimbabwe has become the test case of the tension between global governance and sovereignty.”
In a report, Things Fall Apart, the civic group says the North/South divide further compounded the situation.
Despite the fact that Mugabe has dismissed possibilities of a government of national unity, the civic organisation said a good MDC performance in the poll might compel Zanu PF to change its mind.
“A strong showing by the MDC might persuade Zanu PF to invite the MDC into a government of national unity. This scenario would assist in returning confidence in the government’s legal and social systems.”
However, the group said given Zanu PF’s swallowing of former opposition PF Zapu under the guise of a merger, the MDC would be reluctant.
“Given the likelihood of the second scenario (failure to achieve a coalition), the current political and social crisis will remain an existing feature in Zimbabwe up until the 2008 presidential election.”
The organisation said yesterday’s election would not be free and fair due to political and logistical problems.