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Chamisa must do the right thing and join POLAD

23 Dec 2019 at 08:13hrs | Views
Former South Africa President Mr Thabo Mbeki's record of pulling off political settlements against the odds is well known. As Sadc-appointed mediator to dialogue in our country, he delivered the Global Political Agreement (GPA) on 15 September 2008 between Zanu-PF, MDC and MDC-T, ushering in the inclusive government.

The talks were necessary to move the country forward as elections that had been done five months earlier had yielded a hung parliament.

Bringing together the then President, Robert Mugabe, the then MDC-T leader Mr Morgan Tsvangirai and the then MDC's Professor Arthur Mutambara was a difficult task for Mr Mbeki as the antagonism between Zanu-PF and MDCs was deep, further deepened by the extreme acrimony surrounding an election season that had started in March 2008, ending in June when the presidential election run-off was held, Zanu-PF winning convincingly.  

Then, foreign interference in Zimbabwe was at its worst. Not only was the West openly funding MDC, they also attempted to convince the United Nations to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe. Fortunately, Russia and China vetoed the resolution in July of that year, just as Mbeki was beginning his mediation role. In spite of these and other challenges, the talks ended successfully when the GPA was signed. More recently, Mbeki was charged by the African Union to mediate in the South Sudan dialogue.   

Therefore, when he visited Harare last week, speculation went off that he was in the country to begin mediation for special dialogue between President Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance's Mr Nelson Chamisa outside the ambit of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad).  

Apart from demanding bi-lateral talks with the President, dismissing Polad, the latter has demanded a foreign mediator.

The speculation went a gear up after Mbeki met the President, Polad members and Mr Chamisa. However, President Mnangagwa put that speculation to rest on Saturday, making it clear that political negotiations in the country will continue to be held under the Polad framework and convened by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission, chaired by retired Justice Selo Nare.

The President said Mbeki did not indicate that talks be held outside this platform. Speaking to journalists at State House in Harare after delivering his Unity Day message, President Mnangagwa once again invited Mr Chamisa to be part of the Polad dialogue.

"He (Mr Mbeki) never pushed for talks when he met me. We are very old friends, indeed he discussed the political situation in the country and I explained to him that with regard to dialogue, we have a platform where every political party freely can come into that platform including MDC under Chamisa."

Asked if there was a chance of meeting Chamisa under any other platform, the President responded: "That (Polad) is the only platform where political dialogue will take place."

We think that the President's message will bring an end to Mr Chamisa's demands over the past few months for special treatment in regard to dialogue.   Discarding Polad simply because Mr Chamisa demands so would be wrong since the platform has already made so much progress since it started its work in May. Also, Mr Chamisa is just one voice versus some 20 others who have no problem with Polad.

He does not deserve the preferential treatment he is demanding because he constitutes a minority against others in Polad.   MDC Alliance might be the biggest opposition party in the country but in the broader scheme of things, the party is just a minnow. They only hold 88 seats in the legislature and contribute a far smaller proportion at local government level.  On the other hand, Zanu-PF holds 179 seats in Parliament and a larger majority at local government level. President Mnangagwa won the presidential poll by more than 300 000 votes.

An opposition party that is as small as MDC Alliance that it cannot prevent a constitutional amendment if one comes up, is, with respect, of little to no force. As such, Mr Chamisa cannot dictate the pace and form of talks; cannot demand special treatment. If he does not want to join Polad and continues to make noises on the sidelines, we suggest that he be ignored.   However, that view will not stop us from, once again, appealing to the MDC Alliance leader to do the right thing which is to swallow his pride and join 20 other political leaders who are working under the auspices of Polad. That is a strictly local structure to take our country to greater political consensus.

Source - Chronicle
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