NELSON Chamisa is still keen to meet with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to help resolve Zimbabwe’s decades-long political and economic challenges, MDC Alliance secretary for presidential affairs, Jameson Timba, has said.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, the level-headed and ever approachable Timba also observed that Chamisa had been among the first leaders to call for necessary national dialogue — adding, however, that he had been “ignored” by Mnangagwa and the ruling Zanu PF.
“Our position on the issue of legitimacy and dialogue has not changed. The legitimacy question is not a pre-condition for dialogue, but an agenda item for that dialogue.
“Chamisa was the first to call for dialogue, but was spurned by Zanu PF, which said there was nothing to talk about,” he said, amid national hopes that the political climate in the country has never been more conducive for all-inclusive talks.
This comes after Zanu PF said earlier this week that Chamisa had rebuffed several invitations by Mnangagwa for talks, including joining the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform — where the president holds meetings with leaders of fringe opposition parties who contested him in the 2018 elections.
Timba said yesterday that the MDC Alliance had indeed refused to join Polad because Chamisa wanted to hold talks with Mnangagwa directly, as there was no dispute between the MDC Alliance and the other political formations which are part of the platform.
“We said dialogue can only take place between those who are not in agreement. We have no dispute with the other 20 politicians in Polad.
“We, therefore, believe that meaningful dialogue to resolve the national crisis can only take place between the two main protagonists — and these are Chamisa and President Mnangagwa.
“He (Mnangagwa) is currently the president of the country and it is incumbent upon him to say let us sit down and talk to solve the problems facing us as a country,” Timba further told the Daily News.
The even-tempered former Cabinet minister in the short-lived, but stability-inducing 2009 government of national unity (GNU) also said Zimbabwe’s politics had been sullied by “a legitimacy crisis” for many decades — and, therefore, it was wrong to see the disputed 2018 presidential election result as an isolated incident.
“The legitimacy crisis has been with us for decades. The crisis of legitimacy arises out of a cycle of disputed elections, and this dispute cannot, therefore, be simplistically reduced to a dispute between Chamisa and Mnangagwa — because previously it was a dispute between (Robert) Mugabe and (Joshua) Nkomo, then Mugabe and (Edgar) Tekere, Mugabe and (Morgan) Tsvangirai (all late), and now these two.
“Unless this cycle is broken then the crisis in this country will not end. Chamisa and Mnangagwa are just but the current representatives of this dispute by virtue of their 2018 election dispute,” Timba added.
He also said among the problems that Mnangagwa and Chamisa needed to sit down to resolve, was the “militarisation of our whole body politic and the capture of the state by a few”.
“These issues must be put on the table and discussed openly by everyone who claims to have this country at heart.
“We owe it to ourselves and to future generations to right the wrongs of the past which have been perpetuated to date.
“Chamisa and Mnangagwa must sit down on their own first, and find common ground, before the dialogue is broadened to include all other stakeholders — because when discussions are held around the issue of electoral reforms, for example, that will need everyone’s involvement,” Timba said further.
This comes after Zanu PF claimed earlier this week that Chamisa’s political star was dimming after he allegedly batted away several opportunities to hold talks with Mnangagwa.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News, tough-talking Zanu PF national political commissar, Victor Matemadanda, also accused Chamisa of over-estimating himself and suffering a “lack of wisdom” for declining to dialogue with Mnangagwa under Polad — adding that this was the MDC Alliance leader’s “biggest undoing”.
“Chamisa’s lack of wisdom is his biggest undoing. You need to understand that you cannot hold the people to ransom for a long time.
“We have had people with support, but when you don’t work with others, they will dump you. This is what has happened with him,” he said.
Matemadanda also said it was to Mnangagwa’s credit that since the dramatic fall from power in November 2017 of the late former president Robert Mugabe, Mnangagwa had been extending a hand of friendship to all his political rivals — as part of efforts to promote peace and unity in the country.
“Obviously, the approach of our current president was and remains engaging. Many of the opposition parties were formed during the Mugabe era, where there were no engagement platforms.
“President Mnangagwa invited all parties to Polad and the MDC Alliance decided not to join.
“He (Chamisa) made a serious mistake by refusing to join Polad. What will happen is that (first MDC deputy president Thokozani) Khupe and others become relevant because they are part of what will be going on while he continues to cry from outside.
“He now has nowhere to take his problems as an opposition party,” Matemadanda added.
This comes as the country’s new opposition leader, Douglas Mwonzora, has promised to pursue “a new type of politics” that will see him seeking heightened interactions with both the ruling Zanu PF and other opposition forces.
The respected Harare lawyer and senator has since reiterated that he will, indeed, pursue dialogue with Mnangagwa and Zanu PF — with a view to improving the lives of long-suffering Zimbabweans.
On being elected as the new MDC president, Mwonzora exclusively told the that he would seek to have more interactions with Mnangagwa and Zanu PF, as he sought to end the “politics of hate and divisions”.
But Timba yesterday insisted that dialogue with Mwonzora would not resolve the country’s problems, adding that “he (Mwonzora) derives his legitimacy in the Senate by virtue of his appointment by Chamisa on the MDC Alliance Manicaland party list”.
“If I may ask a question, what is the dispute between Mnangagwa and Mwonzora that dialogue between them would resolve?
“He participated at our congress and lost. This is public knowledge. He then left the party with others. This is public knowledge too.
“If he wishes to join the party that he left, he is fully aware of the constitutional procedures he has to take.
“But one does not walk away voluntarily from an organisation and co-operate with the State to decimate the same organisation through unlawful recalls of people’s representatives, and then say can we have talks to reunite. He can re-join the MDC Alliance if he wishes,” Timba said of Mwonzora.