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Mnangagwa fishes in Chamisa's pond

by Staff reporter
05 Apr 2019 at 07:18hrs | Views
PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa plans to appoint more opposition officials to key government positions notwithstanding his continuing brawl with MDC boss Nelson Chamisa - who has adamantly refused to recognise him as Zimbabwe's legitimate leader, the Daily News reported.

This comes after the 76-year-old Zanu-PF leader appointed prominent former MDC legislator and spokesperson of the MDC's revered late founding father Morgan Tsvangirai, James Maridadi, as one of the country's new ambassadors - in a move which has surprised many in the country, including in Zanu-PF.

Mnangagwa's spokesperson George Charamba told the Daily News yesterday that his boss would follow up on Maridadi's appointment by picking more opposition officials in important government positions.

"We are on a nation-building project. We are interested in national cohesion. We are no longer concerned about political affiliations.

"He (Maridadi) is Zimbabwean and he has the qualifications. He has the qualities of a diplomat. In fact, we are going to appoint more individuals from the opposition," he said.

Maridadi was this week selected as part of a group of ambassadors-designate who are undergoing a special induction programme meant to acquaint them with the key role of envoys.

He joined a group that included retired lieutenant generals Anselem Sanyatwe, Martin Chedondo and Douglas Nyikayaramba, as well as former vice air marshal Sheba Shumbayawonda - who are all set to take up ambassadorial roles having been retired by Mnangagwa earlier this year.

Maridadi, a former popular disc jockey, began his political career with former Finance minister Simba Makoni's Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn in 2008, before he switched over to the MDC where he was appointed Tsvangirai's spokesperson.

He later became an MDC MP and chief of protocol during the short-lived but stability-inducing government of national unity era.

Last year, he was defeated in the MDC primary elections ahead of the July 30 national polls and subsequently also lost his long-held Mabvuku-Tafara constituency to James Chidhakwa.

Yesterday, a stunned MDC described Maridadi's appointment as "shocking, considering tense relations between the opposition and Mnangagwa". "It's shocking. It's eyebrow-raising. One wonders what he (Maridadi) did to get rewarded at this stage. We understand that the struggle for democracy is hard and long. It's difficult for many to last the distance.

"We know that the system deploys spies to infiltrate the party, but they are going to be outed and we will always have these people that always try to get to our principals," MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume told the Daily News.

Chamisa has been brawling with Mnangagwa ever since he narrowly lost last year's hotly-disputed July 30 presidential election - whose result he vigorously challenged at the Constitutional Court (Con-Court). The youthful opposition leader even went to the extent of accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of manipulating the poll results in favour of the Zanu-PF leader.

But Mnangagwa's victory was upheld by the Con-Court, which ruled that Chamisa had failed to provide evidence that he had won the election. So far, there has been no meaningful engagement between Mnangagwa and Chamisa despite the Zanu-PF leader having invited his political rivals to several meetings which the MDC leader has consistently snubbed.

Political analysts said yesterday that while it was "normal in some countries" to appoint opposition figures into key government posts, it was surprising that Mnangagwa had picked Maridadi - given the strained relations between Zanu-PF and the MDC following last year's disputed elections.

"While it is Maridadi's right to take his career in any path that he so chooses, the appointment raises a lot of questions on how secure the opposition is from infiltration by people who do not believe in its struggle.

"It is normal in democracies for people to be appointed from across the floor and we had (former South African president Thabo) Mbeki appointing former DA leader Tony Leon as ambassador, but let's remember that Zimbabwe is far from being a democracy nor a politically normal country.

"Having someone appointed by a party in government that shot what I believe to be Maridadi's political mates on 1 August 2018 baffles the mind," political analyst Rashweat Mukundu said. "This appointment also raises questions on how political leaders can easily and seemingly abandon struggles they once stood for.

"One can imagine that if Ian Smith was as lucky as Zanu-PF, then the liberation struggle could as well have been abandoned as people jostled to take positions and goodies that come with that.

"I don't fault Maridadi for his decision. I only question how principled our politicians are," Mukundu added. This is not the first time that a member of the opposition has been appointed to head a foreign mission.

Ousted former president Robert Mugabe appointed the late Trudy Stevenson, Hilda Mafudze, Hebson Makuvise and Jacqueline Zwambila as ambassadors during the GNU.

While Makuvise and Zwambila's terms ended with the expiry of the GNU, Stevenson and Mafudze remained on tour of duty in Senegal and Sudan respectively well after the unity government.

Stevenson died last year in August, while Mafudze is now returning home to make way for a new appointee.

Source - Dailynews