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National dialogue an opportunity to transform Zimbabwe

07 Feb 2019 at 13:21hrs | Views
National dialogue is an increasingly popular tool for conflict resolution and political transformation. Normally, it can broaden debate regarding a country's trajectory beyond the usual elite decision makers.

The political events that took place recently have caused a lot of confusion, chaos and violent incidents across the country, painting a bad picture about the country and negatively affecting the national development programmes and the country's way forward in terms of international engagements and trade.

To maximize on the dialogue's potential to address the real drivers of conflict, it is imperative that all key interest groups be invited to participate, including opposition political outfits and other traditionally excluded groups like church representatives.

Following the violent incidents that took place in most parts of the country last month, President Emmerson Mnangagwa sincerely invited all political party leaders to attend the national dialogue at State House. As a listening leader, President Mnangagwa has always been calling individuals, groups or organisations with constructive ideas and suggestions for nation building to present them to him. His word has always been that his doors are open for dialogue.

At the commencement of the national dialogue, President Mnangagwa posted on his twitter handle that, "Today we began a national dialogue, the fulfilment of pledge to engage and consult all Presidential aspirants on ways to move Zimbabwe forward. Let us all put dialogue over conflict and collaboration over confrontation. Individually we are a drop; together we are a mighty ocean."

Some political party leaders decided not to be part of the national dialogue, by setting pre-conditions before the discourse, this did not deter President Mnangagwa from meeting with other willing political party leaders.

It is essential for political party leaders to put their political jackets aside and converge on ideas which bring forth lasting solutions to resolve the political conflicts existing in the political landscape of Zimbabwe, and indeed save the nation from further turmoil.

Usually, a national dialogue seeks to reach agreement on key issues facing a country. The fact that a national dialogue has been called for means that there is a problem and consequently need for discussions so as to come up with lasting solutions to the economic and political challenges bedevilling the nation.

It's unfortunate that there has been a blame game by the opposition parties in terms of the violent protests and looting of goods in shops that took place between 14 and 16 January 2019. The MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa denied that the people who participated in the violent incidents and looting were his supporters. However, contrary to that, his Chitungwiza legislator, Godfrey Sithole was captured inciting MDC-T supporters to take part in violent activities and looting of commodities in shops during the national stay away.

It is worth to note that national dialogue is an inclusive process and is secondary to the good faith of participants honestly trying to understand the perspectives of people with whom they may disagree, but without giving up commitment to the truth. Thus, good faith is a prerequisite to a fruitful dialogue. As such, political party leaders participating in the national dialogue should be earnest and sincere when giving their contributions.

National dialogue is not unique to Zimbabwe, in response to a tense and deteriorating situation in 2003 to 2004 widespread poverty and a political stalemate, talks were organised in Mauritania. The national dialogue took place under the support of UNDP, about 400 members of Mauritania's government, opposition and civil society members, over a period of six months. In view of that, an entry point for the dialogue was to advance the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to end problems such as poverty, illiteracy and HIV/AIDS by 2015.

Therefore, leaders of political parties, churches and civil society organisations should join hands and effectively participate in the national dialogue for the betterment of Zimbabwean citizens.

Source - Sibusiso Ndlamini
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