HARARE – As Zimbabwe’s economy continues to deteriorate, opposition leader Nelson Chamisa cranked up the political heat on President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his ruling Zanu PF yesterday — calling for the immediate establishment of a transitional authority to stabilise the country.
In a petition which the MDC handed over to Parliament and the presidency after thousands of its supporters marched in Harare — which was copied to Sadc chairperson Hage Geingob of Namibia and African Union chairperson Paul Kagame of Rwanda — Chamisa said a transitional authority was the only viable route back to political legitimacy in the country.
The youthful politician also told his die-hard supporters who braved the deluge of rain that has been hammering the capital, that yesterday’s massive demonstration was a sign that long-suffering Zimbabweans were desperate for an end to the country’s current political and economic crises.
This comes after Mnangagwa — speaking through his spokesperson George Charamba in an exclusive interview with the Daily News on Wednesday, said he was open to talks with Chamisa, on the strict understanding that the MDC leader recognised the president as the legitimate winner of the country’s hotly-disputed July 30 election.
This, in turn, came after Chamisa and his key lieutenant Tendai Biti had earlier on Monday told the Commission of Inquiry probing the August 1 shootings in Harare — which left at least six civilians dead — that political dialogue was the only solution to ending the country’s political and economic problems.
Addressing his supporters, who were protesting the falling standards of living in the country and the government’s recent unpopular economic revival measures, Chamisa also said Zimbabwe could not afford “one day longer” without addressing the worsening local political and economic situation.
“Firstly, we are saying to Mnangagwa let’s have negotiations. You must come and sit down so that we can solve the current economic crisis.
“Zimbabweans are suffering. The crisis in the country is a crisis of governance, confidence, legitimacy and leadership. How can we solve this?
“We are saying let us unite. On our side we have good leadership qualities and you lack leadership qualities. So, we must unite and map the way forward,” Chamisa told his exuberant supporters.
“Some say that the country must move forward, and so we must let it be. But we are saying, the only way the country can move forward is a transitional authority which is a result of dialogue, where we say we are not agreed on who is the legitimate leader and agree to work together,” he said further.
Charamba said Mnangagwa was not against holding talks with Chamisa, and had actually engaged the opposition leader in the run-up to the hotly disputed July 30 polls — with the MDC boss allegedly moving to scupper the positive dialogue subsequently.
“You may also want to know, and I am making this disclosure for the first time, that way before we went for elections — at the height of the election campaigns, and even after the elections — there were lots of back channel communications between Zanu PF and MDC.
“Some of the players are pretending to be very radical today but we know better and the MDC Alliance knows what’s on offer.
“There was an extraordinary amount of goodwill which they fluffed. One hopes that goodwill still subsists … but anyway, now that they have given that indication,
let’s wait for the commission to make its recommendations and then move forward and see how this action pans out.
“But a key pre-condition is that there must be a recognition of ED as the winner of the 2018 elections … there are no two ways about that,” Mnangagwa’s trusted spokesperson said emphatically.
Chamisa also told his supporters yesterday that he had appraised regional leaders and the African Union on the need for dialogue in the country — and had given them
copies of the petition which was delivered to Parliament and Mnangagwa’s offices soon after the demonstration.
The petition gave an overview of the “dire” political and economic situation in the country, allegedly as a result of poor governance by Mnangagwa’s administration.
“We have taken this petition to Sadc because that’s our regional body. I am going to meet the president of Namibia very soon to officially articulate and explain the nuts and bolts of this document.
“We have also taken this document to AU chairman Paul Kagame,” the charismatic Chamisa boomed.
Zimbabwe was forced into a government of national unity (GNU) a decade ago, following the hotly-disputed 2008 presidential election in which the late MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai trounced former president Robert Mugabe.
The results of those elections were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later revealed by former bigwigs of the ruling party.
In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu PF apparatchiks engaged in an orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed — forcing the former prime minister in the inclusive government to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.
Mugabe went on to stand in a widely-condemned one-man race in which he shamelessly declared himself the winner.
However, Sadc and the rest of the international community would have none of it, forcing the nonagenarian to share power with Tsvangirai for five years, to prevent the country from imploding completely.
Chamisa narrowly lost to Mnangagwa in the July 30 presidential election, before he went on to accuse the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of manipulating the results in favour of the Zanu PF leader.
But Mnangagwa’s victory was later upheld by the Constitutional Court, which ruled that Chamisa had failed to provide evidence that he had won the election.
Meanwhile, angry MDC supporters yesterday turned on one of their vice presidents, Elias Mudzuri — who was forced to abort his address to them, as tempers flared over his recent meeting with Mnangagwa at the president’s offices on Monday.
Mudzuri was booed by the bumper crowd after MDC national organising secretary Amos Chibaya had sought to have him greet the supporters, before Chamisa’s arrival.
In the end, and very ominously for him, he failed to even chant the party’s slogans, as his voice was drowned out by the heckling from the rowdy crowd — which broke into a derogatory song “tengesa uone mashura” (just sell out and see what will happen).
As a result, the emotional Mudzuri had to leave the venue altogether.
Mudzuri angered MDC officials and party supporters after he understandably attended a meeting of Parliament leaders with Mnangagwa at his Zimbabwe House offices on Monday.
He attended the meeting in his capacity as the leader of the opposition in the Senate. However, his colleague Prosper Mutseyami — who is MDC chief whip in the National Assembly — snubbed the meeting.