WITH the current crisis engulfing the country on the socio-economic, and political front, it has become more urgent than ever for the two main political parties, Zanu PF and MDC-Alliance, to engage in national dialogue, which is the only prescription to the country’s numerous ills.
The country is facing its biggest health crisis — hundreds of people are dying as many fail to access healthcare due to the Covid-19 pandemic and a crippling strike by health professionals. The economy is in the intensive care unit.
Zimbabwe is facing a deepening economic crisis characterised by acute foreign currency shortage, a debilitating liquidity crisis, hyperinflation that has resulted in skyrocketing prices of goods and services, company closures and job losses. In addition more than half the country’s population is facing starvation.
Events in the past week, which saw an upsurge in human rights violations by the state, leading to ordinary Zimbabweans mobilising protests under the hashtag #ZimbabweanLivesMatter, have shown the time is now ripe for national dialogue. The #ZimbabweanLivesMatter protest is an outcry by the citizens for intervention before everything collapses.
As Ethiopian Emperor Haile Selassie once stated: “Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted, the indifference of those who should have known better, the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most, that has made it possible for evil to triumph”.
The country has been on a precipice. President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s administration has deployed state machinery to crush protests, as well as arrest and detain perceived enemies. There were also reports of abductions and torture of citizens for merely expressing their constitutional rights to protest against the government’s failures and corruption.
Although the two main protagonists, President Mnangagwa and opposition MDCAlliance leader Nelson Chamisa, have both acknowledged the need for dialogue, it has not been followed up by action as both remain entrenched in the positions they have taken as pre-conditions for talks to commence.
Mnangagwa has insisted that Chamisa should join the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform he established last year if he entertains any hopes of participating in national dialogue.
Chamisa, on his part, is adamant that he will never join Polad, which comprises of what he described as “insignificant political figures” like Lovemore Madhuku and Thokozani Khupe, among others.
Mnangagwa also says negotiations can only begin if Chamisa recognises him as the legitimate President. Chamisa, on the other hand, insists that the Zanu PF leader’s legitimacy as President be one of the issues to be tabled for negotiation, a position rejected by Zanu PF.
Both leaders should stop posturing if the country is to resolve the serious problems it faces.
Zanu PF have to acknowledge that they cannot go it alone as evidenced by their failure to steer the country out of the morass it is in. Chamisa should recognise that maintaining a hardline position will only justify moves by hawks in Zanu PF to throw spanners in the works and derail dialogue that can influence positive change and breathe life into the comatose economy.
It is time for both parties to take a leaf from the Global Political Agreement when the late former President Robert Mugabe and the late MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to work together.
Zimbabweans are tired, business is tired and the political situation is desperate.
The political leaders need to find each and put the country first. There are no winners here. The political impasse is draining the country.
When all is said and done, national dialogue is the only way forward and the sooner both Mnangagwa and Chamisa realise this and act accordingly, the better it will be for the country’s development.
Militant social justice campaigner and former president of Burkina Faso Thomas Sankara once rightly cautioned that: “Our revolution is not a public-speaking tournament. Our revolution is not a battle of fine phrases. Our revolution is not simply for spouting slogans that are no more than signals used by manipulators trying to use them as catchwords, as code words, as a foil for their own display. Our revolution is, and should continue to be, the collective effort of revolutionaries to transform reality, to improve the concrete situation of the masses of our country”.