Church in fresh push for inclusive national dialogue

BY OBEY MANAYITI

CHURCHES are reviving their bid for a comprehensive national dialogue to tackle the country’s ever-pressing problems, insisting that all other initiatives must feed into the one they are championing.

All hope seems to be fading away for President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s national dialogue, that is largely being attended by small parties that participated at the last year’s harmonised elections.

The MDC and other parties have snubbed the dialogue, dealing a heavy blow to the platform that was aimed at resolving the current challenges.

In an interview yesterday, Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary-general Kenneth Mtata said other processes must proceed, but they must now feed into the comprehensive dialogue which will bring everyone on board.

He said they had slowed down their initiative after the President launched his national dialogue process, among other factors, but were now back pushing for an all-inclusive dialogue.

“All the processes must come into one,” Mtata said. “We are confident that everyone will participate. The initiative had slowed down, but right now it is gathering momentum.”

He said war veterans, the business community, civil society and others are leading other conversations and for the sake of progress, they must all flow into one where tangible results must be expected.

“The processes are going to be parallel, but will then feed into this joint platform. We need to establish a process with a comprehensive common agenda, shared and agreed convening and with an agreed kind of product at the end,” he said.

Mtata said it will not be possible to move on with other quarters giving out negative energy that will not give anything to the broad-based dialogue that will produce the necessary social contract for the country.

Following disputed elections, the majority have been hoping for an alliance between the MDC and Zanu PF, but it fell apart after the main opposition refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s victory.

Mtata said growing calls to convene the tripartite negotiating forum for unions, employers and the State will not address the current economic crisis because the majority of citizens are unemployed.

“Tripartite engagement is now redundant because 95% of the people are unemployed. What we need is a comprehensive national dialogue that will include as many people as possible. The crisis that we are facing cannot be resolved under such an arrangement,” he said.

The church-led dialogue was launched just after Mnangagwa launched his dialogue process at State House. The parties agreed to have both the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and the Gender Commission as joint conveners.