Mnangagwa, Chamisa must show some leadership

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Faith Zaba

THE ruling Zanu PF and its biggest rival, MDC, are beating war drums in preparation for a direct confrontation. The main political parties are flexing muscles, leading to tensions rising to a boiling point, as Zimbabweans grapple with skyrocketing prices of basic commodities, such as groceries and fuel.

Candid Comment,Faith Zaba
fzaba@zimind.co.zw

The MDC resolved at its congress in Gweru almost a fortnight ago to roll out mass demonstrations to force President Emmerson Mnangagwa to step down and call for fresh polls. In response, Home Affairs minister Cain Mathema declared that government will not hesitate to crush ‘civil disobedience’.

This is not the language that people want to hear. Instead of speaking about confrontation, ordinary Zimbabweans want to hear talk about an all-inclusive dialogue, involving churches, civil society, business, labour representatives and professionals, to resolve the current economic problems bedevilling the country. Mnangagwa and Chamisa need to think deeply about urgent engagement because every Zimbabwean understands that dialogue between them is the only way out of the current economic abyss.

While it is great that Mnangagwa has initiated dialogue with smaller political players, the talks are meaningless unless he engages his biggest rival. Both Mnangagwa and Chamisa need to show leadership. Mnangagwa, as the leader of the country, must certainly be the one to guide the nation on where it should go. This includes embracing talks with Chamisa, who must also not confine himself to the “Mnangagwa must go” mentality. There is no other alternative — dialogue is the only option for now to avoid bloodshed.

If the two do not seriously engage, what will happen is what government fears the most — people pouring onto the streets and the police reacting heavy-handedly to crush the protests. The police are already training for that and are buying weapons and trucks in preparation for the protests, which might also lead to soldiers being deployed and killing of more people — a reincarnation of the August 1 and January shootings. Do we really need to have a bloodbath first before talking? Political leaders need to be proactive. Zanu PF needs to abandon the thinking that its two-thirds majority in parliament can fix the economy. It needs to be reminded that problems in Zimbabwe are beyond a political party. They are beyond a leader. They need collective thinking of Zimbabweans. The MDC must also stop thinking that the only way forward is for it to use the “kudira Jecha” approach (spoiling the party) at the expense of the nation. Yes, they are political rivals, but at the end of the day, what is more important is to fix Zimbabwe and not each other. Chamisa must stop being fixated with fixing Mnangagwa. This is not to say the opposition should abandon its role of criticising, monitoring and bringing to account Mnangagwa’s government.

The truth is that Zanu PF cannot fix the economy on its own and so cannot the MDC. People must accept this reality.

Instead of continuing to fuel tensions, political leaders must sit down and talk. They must show leadership, vision and listen to what the people are saying, including Zanu PF youths, who for the first time are showing a different kind of thinking by calling for talks.

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