by RICHARD MUPONDE
THE United States has renewed its demands for President Emmerson Mnangagwa to implement wide-ranging reforms and initiate inclusive dialogue to resolve the country’s debilitating socio-economic and political crises.
Mnangagwa’s administration has been dragging its feet on reforms.
The Zanu PF leader has vowed that the only platform for dialogue is the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), a grouping of presidential candidates who participated in the 2018 elections.
In a congratulatory message marking 41 years of Zimbabwe’s independence, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called on Harare to implement the 2013 Constitution.
“The United States supports all Zimbabweans who aspire to a peaceful, democratic and prosperous future. To that end, we will join with the Zimbabwean people to strengthen democratic institutions, promote equitable economic growth, boost public health, and improve food security, “Blinken said.
“As the people of Zimbabwe celebrate their Independence Day, we recognise their continued struggle to secure the rights and freedoms enshrined in their Constitution. We encourage the government to support reforms to advance these constitutional rights and embrace an inclusive national dialogue that upholds the universal values Zimbabweans have fought so hard to gain.”
Zanu PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo said Blinken‘s congratulatory message was welcome, but declined to comment on the call for reforms.
“As I said before, there is engagement and re-engagement of the countries which is going on. Naturally of course, the message of congratulations for our nationhood is welcome, but further to that, I can’t comment as it is a government-to-government matter,” Moyo said.
Information minister Monica Mutsvanga said she was unable to comment as she was in a meeting.
Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum executive director Musa Kika said: “It seems the President is adamant that Polad is the dialogue platform and no other platform will be created. This is unfortunate given that Polad is really more of a sanitising and pacifying agenda, as opposed to a real national dialogue agenda, with clear outputs and outcomes demarcated. For now, the sincerity of dialogue in Mnangagwa and Zanu PF is elusive,” Kika said.
ZimRights director Dzikamai Bere said: “It is unlikely that they will heed the US call. Indications are that when there is call for progressive reforms, the government is not committed. If they are told to turn right they turn left. A good example is the Constitution. What the US is calling for is what the civil society has been clamouring for. The reforms should be the alignment of the Constitution and implement its provisions.
“They even proposed the Patriotic Bill. These progressive reforms are being reversed. You will also see that instead of convening the all-inclusive dialogue, government decimated the opposition and created their opposition which it’s now dialoguing with.”
The US and the European Union have been relentlessly calling for Mnangagwa’s government to implement reforms and also uphold human rights.