PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa’s government and opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa have warmed up to South Africa’s calls for an inclusive approach in solving the political and economic crisis in Zimbabwe.
BY BLESSED MHLANGA/BRENNA MATENDERE
In a rare tough message coming from South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s government, International Relations and Co-operation minister Naledi Pandor said Zimbabwe had a political and economic crisis caused by the antipathy between its political leaders.
“While we support the call for an end to economic sanctions, the political dynamics that we observe are inexplicably linked to the economic solutions and that the politics and the economic as well as the social need to be confronted simultaneously,” she said on Monday.
Pandor said Zimbabwe had no capacity to solve the economic crisis, which has driven her citizens to flood South Africa in search for greener pastures, without solving the underlying political problems.
“We are not going to achieve economic resolution without resolving the political, intractable hostility and lack of amity of social conjoining and finding a national solution. This coming together of a range of aspects that need attention can only be led from Zimbabwe,” she said.
Chamisa said the South African government’s statement was a breakthrough to MDC’s diplomatic offensive.
“For months now, we have been asking our African brothers and sisters to look into the man-made governance crisis in Zimbabwe and help us restore the dignity of citizens. We are heartened by Minister Pandor’s correct diagnosis of the major problem in Zimbabwe as toxic politics,” he said.
“We, in the MDC, stand ready to welcome South Africa and Sadc’s mediation in Zimbabwe to end the suffering that has gone on for far too long, and give our people hope. In the face of provocation and persecution, our commitment to a sustainable, peaceful outcome has not shrunk.”
The MDC leader said in the interim, there was need to ensure Zimbabwe got help to fund the collapsing health delivery system, which has left many dead as doctors continue a job action now reaching 80 days.
“Dr Pandor has called for ‘practical solutions’. I wish to plead with SA, in the interim, to help set up a donor fund for our people from which we can pay our doctors a decent wage. There is a silent genocide in hospitals which cannot wait for politicians to find each other,” Chamisa said.
Information secretary Ndavaningi Mangwana said Mnangagwa government’s message was in sync with what the South African minister was saying and the issues she raised were already being addressed.
“In short, she said that we are too polarised in this country and as we fight sanctions and work on economic solutions for our country, we need to find each other. President Mnangagwa reached out to all political entities in this country to come together and dialogue as far back as May 2018.
He has never deviated from that message, that’s why we have Polad (Political Actors Dialogue) . So the Pandor message dovetails with the President’s message,” he said.
Zimbabwe faces a political crisis emanating from a contested 2018 presidential election result, which the MDC maintains was doctored, creating a rift between the ruling Zanu PF and the opposition.
Needing regional support to extricate itself from a dire economic crisis, Zimbabwe finds itself in a Catch 22 situation after South Africa said it would only help if there was consensus between Mnangagwa and all political players and stakeholders.
“We would be greatly assisted in playing a positive role if we knew there was a shared notion in Zimbabwe of what must be done,” Pandor said.
“This is an extremely important point for us because while, indeed as the South African government, we work very closely with the government of Zimbabwe, it would be difficult for us to be seen as playing a role only with the government, given the large nature of the problem that confronts our country.
“We need to be provided with a path that indicates that as we enter to provide support, all the parties, all groups and all stakeholders in Zimbabwe are at one with that assistance that support must be.”
Meanwhile, churches have assured the nation that the much-anticipated talks between Mnangagwa and Chamisa will take place despite the haggling by the two leaders over pre-dialogue conditions.
Speaking to NewsDay in Gweru yesterday on the sidelines of a peace conference attended by traditional leaders from the Midlands, Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) secretary-general Kenneth Mtata reiterated that the deepening economic crisis made the dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa inevitable.
“Even our neighbours in South Africa now share the same sentiments. We had a top official in the South African government speaking about the need for dialogue in Zimbabwe. We may have exaggerated the speed at which the processes leading to the dialogue could take, but as churches, we believe the talks are going to happen. We are continuing to engage the leaders,” Mtata said.
The ZCC secretary-general also revealed that in the recent past, the church has been holding meetings with traditional leaders in a move he described as part of processes to deepen the idea of “national dialogue”.
Addressing the traditional leaders, National Peace and Reconciliation Commission chairperson Retired Justice Selo Nare implored them to work for sustainable peace in the country.
“There is no nation that has been prosperous in the absence of peace. Our commission’s mandate is to ensure that there is peace in the country. We also have issues that have not been resolved such as Gukurahundi,” he said.