EDITORIAL COMMENT: Let’s give dialogue a chance, violence is not the answer

The Chronicle

THREATS by Movement for Democratic Change Alliance president Mr Nelson Chamisa to call for a mass action and to “shut down” Harare if President Mnangagwa does not agree to a power-sharing arrangement are regrettable and unfortunate as they negate the spirit of dialogue and national reconciliation being spearheaded by Government and other opposition parties.

Mr Chamisa, who is calling for a bizarre arrangement where he will be given two years to rule the country on a rotational basis with the incumbent, wants a narrow form of dialogue that revolves around getting power via the back door after he and his party lost elections in July last year.

He told his party supporters at a rally at Mkoba Stadium in Gweru on Sunday that the MDC-A was prepared to use its political muscle through demonstrations in which all its supporters countrywide would descend on Harare.

Mr Chamisa appears intent on using demonstrations, which have previously turned violent, to make the country ungovernable and precipitate a crisis warranting foreign intervention.

The last shutdown called by the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions last month degenerated into an orgy of violence, looting and criminality with attendant loss of life and destruction of property.

“Last month there was a stay away called by our mother, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions and we took heed to it as we are a child of ZCTU. Now we are saying we want dialogue with (President) Mnangagwa. I know you are asking yourselves a question, if (President) Mnangagwa refuses dialogue what will we do?

“We said we are giving him a short space of time to conclude dialogue and do away with the election mode. The country cannot be perpetually in an election mode. We want to close the election mode and go into economic transformation. We will call our membership from across the country and engage in a democratic mass action and shut down Harare,” Mr Chamisa told party supporters in Gweru.

We find his utterances grossly irresponsible and ill-advised coming as they do hardly a month after the country went through one of the saddest episodes of its history and is still to recover from the anarchy and atrocities of the three-day shutdown.

His stance is also at cross purposes with the spirit of dialogue initiated by President Mnangagwa who has been meeting leaders of all political parties which participated in the July harmonised elections to chart a new path for the nation.

The broad-based national dialogue also involves churches, civil society, students and other interest groups.

Mr Chamisa wants dialogue between Zanu-PF and the MDC-A and has demanded a power sharing agreement where he is given at least two years to rule the country.

“(President) Mnangagwa you will give me two years (to govern the country) and govern for two years and we inter change like that as we rule our country together. Political dialogue is a necessity to unlock the political stalemate in the country. That is the agenda we have for this country. We are saying (President) Mnangagwa give us signals of sincerity. We don’t want to see soldiers at the roadblocks, they should go to the barracks where they belong and in the event we are invaded they take up arms and defend the country. We want dialogue in the country,” he said.

Clearly, Mr Chamisa has no interest whatsoever in seeing Zimbabwe move past election mode and focus on building the economy but is intent on grabbing power at all costs.

His bizarre call for a rotational presidency betrays his lust for power and total lack of understanding of the basics of a constitutional democracy.

President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy as Head of State is not in question and will never be negotiable.

He won the Presidential poll and his victory was confirmed by the Constitutional Court which pronounced itself clearly and unequivocally on the matter.

The current national dialogue is meant to build consensus around issues of peace and reconciliation, unity, a shared vision for the nation and rallying Zimbabweans towards a common purpose.

President Mnangagwa wants the support of all Zimbabweans as he steers the country towards Vision 2030.

His call for dialogue should therefore not be mistaken for weakness but is the hallmark of his Presidency which is inclusive.

As a listening President, he wants the citizens of this country on the same page as his Government which is implementing reforms to turn around the fortunes of Zimbabwe.

Mr Chamisa should therefore not delude himself into thinking that he is on the same level with President Mnangagwa to the extent of calling for ludicrous power sharing arrangements.

He is one of the losing presidential election candidates and is better advised to concentrate on campaigning to retain his post in the MDC which is under threat from the likes of Mr Douglas Mwonzora at the party’s congress in May.