AS the year draws to an end, it has become obvious to millions of Zimbabweans that the prospect of a broad-based, credible dialogue process are fading, further threatening the country’s desperately needed socio-economic recovery.
Over the past year, efforts at dialogue backed by the churches, civic society and other interest groups, aimed at bringing Zimbabwe’s key political players together have yielded minimum results.
The Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) process launched in May 2019 by President Emmerson Mnangagwa to which political parties were invited to participate, has one fundamental weakness, it does not include the main opposition political party, the MDC Alliance.
The two main political parties Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance remain at loggerheads with both setting pre-conditions for dialogue, with the MDC questioning Mnangagwa’s legitimacy and demanding an external mediator to assist with resolving the political impasse.
As the political parties bicker, ordinary Zimbabweans continue to bear much of the burden of the deepening economic and political crisis in the country and with the festive season upon us, few have anything to celebrate with raging inflation and severely eroded incomes worsening the situation.
The lack of dialogue, the worsening economic crisis, coupled with worsening food insecurity affecting 50% of the country’s population of 14,5 million, demonstrate the urgent need for renewed efforts at ending the political stalemate.
The country’s main political parties must commit to dialogue to end what is a becoming a tragic chapter in the country’s history, with the lack of progress holding back the country’s development. So far, the main political parties have failed Zimbabweans and seem oblivious to the desire by the people for a better nation. They must manage their political differences in the national interest and in the New Year find common ground, show political maturity and work with the churches, civic society and other non-state players to push for dialogue that will avert a humanitarian crisis. Lack of dialogue and political reforms pose a real threat of violent confrontation.
To make progress, space must be created and pressure exerted on those that have excluded themselves from the negotiating process to join the talks. They must be agreement on the framework of the talks, and assurance that the process will be inclusive, credible and transparent.
Zimbabwe’s political players have in the past sat down together, they have walked this journey before, with power sharing negotiations leading to a Government of National Unity in 2009. The current incarnation of Zanu PF is a result of a merger of two bitter rivals, Zanu-PF and PF-Zapu, in 1987. The recommendations from any dialogue will determine how Zimbabwe as a country moves on from the current crisis.
The prospects of success of the current dialogue in its present form are clearly not promising. The New Year must see renewed commitment to dialogue and must bring in a new era of hope. There are many who would like to see the efforts at dialogue fail but an even greater number yearn for a resolution to the crisis. Political leaders must put their selfish interest aside for the greater good of the country.