Trust, sincerity key in dialogue

HARARE - There are instances in life when we opt to resort to the basics in shaping key life trends, including political directions.

Dialogue, in essence refers to a conversation between two or more people or groupings. It is opposed to monologue, which is a conversation within the self.

Perhaps the best versions of monologue have come through Shakespearean drama. The English playwright makes extensive use of dramatic irony as a technique.

The Zimbabwean election of July 30 produced a contested outcome which was only settled by the Constitutional Court, albeit after the death of at least six people in the post-poll violence that gripped central Harare on August 1.

Supporters of the main opposition MDC Alliance — led by youthful Nelson Chamisa — had taken to the streets protesting the late release of presidential election results and alleged bias by the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec).

Most Zimbabweans thought the country would go for an inclusive arrangement which they thought would address contestations birthed by the July 30 harmonised polls.

The Government of National Unity (GNU) that subsisted between 2009 and 2013 was itself a product of protracted negotiations involving protagonists of the elections of 2008 — former president Robert Mugabe as leader of Zanu PF, the founding president of the MDC, Morgan Tsvangirai and academic Arthur Mutambara, then leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, and mediated by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

During the subsistence of that political marriage, there were a lot of lessons that Zimbabweans learnt on the importance of trust and sincerity in negotiations.

One reason why people have grown to dislike Mbeki to the bone is his alleged siding with Mugabe during the GNU negotiations. This mistrust continued throughout the life of the GNU and largely accounted for the failure of some of its programmes.

Controversy and squabbles surrounding diamonds revenue — and leakages — from the fields at Chiadzwa in Manicaland were the source of acrimony between the major players in that arrangement, Zanu PF and the MDC.

This is a road Zimbabweans have trudged before and the suspicions they hold of any similar developments are premised on these stark lessons from the country’s cruel and dark past.

Personal interests were let to influence the direction the country was taking at the expense of the broader national interest. By their nature, political agreements are never 100 percent fair to both parties which is why even the post World War 1 Versailles Peace Treaty between Germany and the Allied powers was never going to be fair to the losing belligerent.

There has been street talk saying Mnangagwa should have incorporated MDC Alliance members in his Cabinet. Very noble thinking on grounds of inclusivity, but also one that is not based on current events that seem to reflect on the lack of trust and sincerity between the major players in Zimbabwe’s political realm.

Soon after the Con-Court judgment which all but put paid to Chamisa’s presidential bid, Mnangagwa invited the 40-year-old opposition leader to work with him for the development of Zimbabwe.

Zanu PF should also be sincere when dealing with the opposition so as to earn their trust as a collective. Past experience has shown that the ruling party is economic when it comes to telling the truth, thereby forcing the opposition to take entrenched positions when dealing with them.

Even if Zanu PF and the MDC Alliance were to build bridges and decide to dialogue, the starting point will be building trust in each other, which will help them be sincere when dealing with issues.

This implies that the two political parties must work on finding each other for the benefit of all Zimbabweans. Walking out of Parliament is surely not a way of achieving this.

Dialogue can only succeed when the sides that are involved begin to be sincere about their differences as well as common ground. This will lead them into formulating brilliant policies for the benefit of all.

Comments (1)

Trust and sincerity can only be key in a dialogue if there is respect. As long as one or either party does not respect or mocks the other side talks of dialogue will go nowhere. Our leaders need to rise above individual interests to become visionary nation builders. There is compromise for the common good in relationships. As my mentor say, "You can chose to be right and still be wrong". Great leaders like Gandhi, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Nelson Mandela chose the sacrificial role for the common good of the nation. Dr. King was not even a politician, he was just a civil rights activist who lived his talk, for the common good, for equality, for fair treatment of blacks.

Daniel 5 - 21 September 2018

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