Gumbo, Mutasa court Tsvangirai

HARARE – With the economy in freefall and life for millions of ordinary Zimbabweans worsening by the day, pre-congress Zanu PF stalwarts are courting opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai to join forces with them in a desperate bid to rescue the country from the myriad challenges it is facing.

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Speaking in an interview with the Daily News yesterday, the spokesperson of the pre-congress Zanu PF — that includes former Presidential Affairs minister Didymus Mutasa — Rugare Gumbo, said the country’s dire economic situation called for all Zimbabweans to join hands, in an endeavour to try and stop the country from becoming a certified failed State.

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“The economy is in a very bad shape and we need to bring all democratic forces together so as to save the country, which they (Zanu PF) are failing to rescue from complete implosion. “We have been in talks with other like-minded people like (MDC renewal team leader Tendai) Biti, (Zapu leader Dumiso) Dabengwa and (Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn leader Simba) Makoni. The idea is for all forces to come together and challenge the illegal (post-congress) Zanu PF.

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Asked specifically if the liberation struggle pioneers had approached Tsvangirai, Gumbo said they were ready to work with everyone to rescue the country from its mounting political and economic woes — further accusing President Robert Mugabe’s government of being “clueless” about how to resolve the challenges.

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“We have not yet met with Tsvangirai but we are in the process to unite all democratic forces including him for the good of Zimbabwe. Yes we will approach him because we are interested in a united front to confront the system,” Gumbo said.

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Although the government’s policy framework document, ZimAsset, ambitiously sought to grow the economy by 7,3 percent this year, create value of $7,3 billion from the indigenisation of 1 138 companies across 14 key sectors of the economy and unlock as much as $2 trillion in the economy, the opposite is happening as industries collapse and thousands of desperate Zimbabweans are thrown on the jobless scrapyard.

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Conservative estimates put the country’s current unemployment rate at 90 percent, with the majority of those in the economically active group eking a living as marginal vendors.

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Gumbo, a former Agriculture minister in Mugabe’s Cabinet, said his erstwhile comrades in Zanu PF had reduced the once breadbasket of Africa into “a nation of desperate vendors”.

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“There are no jobs and Zanu PF is using violence to intimidate people that are linked to us. But does violence solve the economic collapse? We are now a vending nation because people have nothing to do,” he said.

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Interestingly, the calls for unity from the Gumbo Zanu PF formation come at a time that Tsvangirai has also been calling for a national convention to address the country’s ever deteriorating socio-economic conditions.

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Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka, told the Daily News yesterday that his boss was “amenable to dialogue to find solutions for long suffering Zimbabweans”.

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“We are very much in agreement with the issue of Zimbabweans coming together to discuss the crisis in the country and that is why we have endorsed the idea of a national convergence conference.

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“Our belief is that the crisis demands a national conversation under a national platform, with diverse stakeholders to agree on how we can rescue the country,” Tamborinyoka said.

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He also noted that parochial and selfish interests had been the major stumbling block to the country’s opposition parties working together in the past, adding that the time was now ripe for unity of purpose.

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“But our position which we hold strongly is that the initiative must be coordinated not by politicians or political parties but by a panel that is non partisan and independent.

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“We are amenable to a discussion with a broad front of stakeholders, provided the initiative is driven by an independent panel that all players have confidence in,” Tamborinyoka said.

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As the country’s economic malaise has deepened, an increasingly desperate and insecure government has been failing to fulfil its fiscal obligations, resulting in recent spontaneous riots.

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Makoni and Dabengwa also confirmed yesterday that they were both ready to join hands with all progressive forces in the mooted alliance.

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Asked whether there had been any overtures from the Gumbo group, Makoni, a former Zanu PF politburo member, said cryptically that “if he told you that we have met then it is so”.

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On the other hand, Dabengwa said: “We have said to them that as far as we are concerned we are prepared to work with them and we await them to come. We are waiting for them to come up when they are ready,”.

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Analysts say what is needed now is increasing pressure on the government to change course and open negotiations with opposition leaders about how to resolve Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges.

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With the next scheduled national elections three years away, Zimbabwe needs to forge a political compact behind measures to arrest the collapse of the economy, the analysts add.

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Already, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU), the country’s largest workers union, has indicated that it will mobilise its members and stage mass demonstrations to force the government to act on the prevailing high unemployment rate, as well as the general hardships being endured by Zimbabweans. – Daily News