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Chamisa took exception to Mnangagwa 'lumping' him together with 'small' parties

by Staff reporter
08 Feb 2019 at 14:24hrs | Views
Frustrated church leaders yesterday rebuked President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa for dithering around the country's much-talked about national dialogue aimed at resolving Zimbabwe's long-running political and economic crisis.

The distinguished members of the clergy who gathered in Harare for a high profile meeting on the planned national talks said this was the more surprising as both men had played leading roles in discussions which led to the formation of the nation-saving government of national unity (GNU) in 2009.

Then president Robert Mugabe (ousted) and the late Morgan Tsvangirai agreed to bury their deep political differences before signing their historic global political agreement (GPA) - following the hotly-disputed 2008 presidential

election which the nonagenarian lost hands down to his then nemesis, before embarking on a murderous campaign against MDC supporters ahead of a sham run-off.

The GPA led to the formation of the short-lived, but stability-inducing GNU which ended controversially in July 2013, and to the detriment of the country.

Yesterday, the gathered church leaders also cited the 1987 Unity Accord between Zanu-PF and-PF Zapu as another example of how Mnangagwa and Chamisa should bury the hatchet in the interest of the country and all Zimbabweans.

Mnangagwa, who had been billed to attend the breakfast gathering sent his emissaries there, while Chamisa - who snubbed Wednesday's talks-about-talks meeting with the Zanu-PF leader - was in attendance.

Cleric Simba Mutandwa said both Mnangagwa and Chamisa needed to choose peace over hostilities, despite their serious differences.

"Though not perfect, among Zimbabweans, we have in the past produced recognisable peace, unity, justice and prosperity dividends.

"The Lancaster House negotiations that gave us independence, the talks during the Gukurahundi gave us the Unity Accord in 1987, the dialogue led by churches gave us the national vision document, the ‘Zimbabwe We Want' in 2006.

"The dialogue after the elections gave us the Government of National Unity in 2009 and the broad national unity among Zimbabweans culminated in the birth of a home-grown Constitution of 2013," Mutandwa said.

Renowned bishop and founder of Zaoga Ministries, Ezekiel Guti, also implored Mnangagwa and Chamisa to "let go certain interests" to find common ground for talks, which he said were important in rebuilding the country.

"I pray that by grace … God enters your hearts so that we forgive each other and move together," he said.

"People must come together, humble themselves and repent from that culture that they must have imported from other places," Zion Christian Church (ZCC) leader Nehemiah Mutendi - a key ally of Mnangagwa - chipped in, while also giving as an example how the late Father Zimbabwe, Joshua Nkomo, and Mugabe had subordinated their anger to talk to each other.

"We also have people like Tsvangirai ... he did not call it humiliation to meet his opposition for the sake of peace," he added, referring to the GPA and the subsequent consummation of the GNU.

However, Mutendi shot down calls by Chamisa to have an impartial foreign mediator for the eagerly-awaited talks between the youthful opposition leader and Mnangagwa.

"You can't ask for a neighbour to show you where to put the head on your bed … they themselves have challenges they need to solve in their own countries," he said.

While Chamisa himself admitted that dialogue was necessary, he took exception to Mnangagwa "lumping" him together with "small" opposition parties - when the mooted talks "should be between the two of us".

"We as politicians are the source of the agony of our land … and it should not be difficult for me to meet with Mnangagwa.

"He is president of his organisation and I am president of my organisation and our dispute hasn't been resolved.

"So, until that issue is resolved, there can never be a meaningful dialogue and I would not come and lie here to the bishops and to God," Chamisa told the gathering.

He also asked the churches to help in the mediation between him and Mnangagwa, but expressed his disappointment with the Zanu-PF leader's absence.

This was after Mnangagwa sent Zanu-PF national chairperson and Defence minister Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who read his speech on his behalf.

"Let us … continue working together towards uniting Zimbabwe, for peace, love, harmony and prosperity to prevail in our nation.

"This platform enables us to brief each other on pertinent issues relating to national development issues and to nurture a common understanding of where we ought to go as a country and the steps we must take to get there.

"As a listening president, I stand to hear your viewpoint in an honest and very candid manner. I'm sure that church leaders and other stakeholders will equally appreciate government's perspectives on various issues and developments in our country," Mnangagwa said.

Yesterday's meeting was part of efforts by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) to accelerate talks towards national dialogue aimed at resolving the country's deepening political and economic crises.

The NPRC has already invited the opposition, Zanu-PF, the church and other key stakeholders to submit their proposals which will guide the much-awaited dialogue.

Last month, Zimbabwe was thrown into a ginormous crisis when angry protesters flooded the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and several other towns across the country, demonstrating against sharp fuel price hikes.

Property worth millions of dollars was also destroyed and looted in the mayhem which ensued, after thousands of workers heeded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' three-day strike call.

At the same time, security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown against the protesters, the opposition and civil society leaders - in a move which received wide condemnation in the country and around the world.

At least 20 people are now said to have died, while nearly 100 others have been treated for serious gunshot wounds, according to rights groups and medical doctors.

Rights groups also continue to report human rights abuses by security forces - including galling allegations that soldiers had raped women and girls during their much-condemned crackdown against innocent civilians.

Source - dailynews