Chamisa takes fight to ED

MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has demanded a “credible, neutral, and recognisable” mediator to present a plan for negotiations with President Emmerson Mnangagwa to end the worsening political and economic crises ravaging what was once Africa’s most promising nation.

On Thursday, Mnangagwa rejected a conditional offer from the opposition party to enter into formal talks under a Southern African Development Community (Sadc) or African Union (AU) guarantor.

Chamisa insists that he is genuinely willing to enter into formal negotiations if certain conditions were met by the Mnangagwa government.

Among his demands are mediation by a neutral third party recognisable to Sadc and the AU, including a requirement that all “prisoners of conscience” be freed, and that there be an immediate return to the barracks by the military.

Chamisa said any continued military offensive would “take talks off the table.”

Through his spokesperson George Charamba, Mnangagwa rejected the conditions, saying talks were an internal matter and required local mediation or observation.

Charamba said the State House meeting on Wednesday boycotted by Chamisa resolved that “there should be no pre-conditions for dialogue,” adding that negotiations would continue with the smaller parties even though political experts are of the view that these have no real power on the ground.

But Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda told the Daily News on Sunday on Friday that the ball is now firmly in Mnangagwa’s court and it was up to the Zanu PF leader to make or break the talks.

While Mnangagwa wants a broader multi-party initiative, Chamisa — who disputes results of the July 30 polls — prefers a dual engagement on the grounds that he is the only one among all the other presidential elections who is contesting results of last year’s elections.

Charamba, who also doubles up as the deputy chief secretary to the President and Cabinet, said Chamisa’s decision to skip the meeting over his demands was “self-defeating” and claimed it was a result of “foreigners whispering to him.”

But Chamisa’s spokesperson said: “Why are they trying to dilute the problem? We cannot move on before we sit down. First, we must meet Mnangagwa, but eventually there must be inclusivity that brings all parties. The (MDC) president has no problem meeting with Mnangagwa any day.”

He said the issue of having the talks under the guidance of an impartial convener was fundamental.

“Among other things, the convener has to be credible, neutral, and recognisable, he must be somebody who is recognisable to Sadc and the AU and that is not too much to demand for. Of course, if a local person meets those requirements, then fine, but we do not see what’s not local about somebody from the Sadc region, what they are asking for is not usual, when you have a conflict you need someone from outside. We want Sadc and the AU as the guarantors of such talks,” said Chamisa’s spokesperson said.

Charamba told the Daily News on Sunday that Chamisa cannot dictate terms when he decided not to attend last week’s meeting held at State House which he claimed was convened by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission chairperson Sello Nare.

“The issue is not about the size of your constituency; that is why I spoke about the principle of parity. (Presidential candidate Brian) Mteki’s intellect does not diminish because he didn’t galvanise support on the ground. To the extent that he submitted his name for the elections means he has a view point on the nation,” Charamba said.

“We expect that soon after the president returns from Addis Ababa, he should be convening the inaugural Presidential Advisory Committee, which is part of the dialoguing process and you will see us meeting with a number of other interest groups to deepen this ethic of negotiations and consultations within our body politic, Chamisa cannot window shop forums. It was agreed that the convener should be in Zimbabwe,” said Charamba referring to Mnangagwa’s trip to the 32nd Ordinary Session of the Assembly of the AU in the Ethiopia capital on Friday.

While Chamisa snubbed Mnangagwa’s State meeting on Wednesday, the Zanu PF leader returned the favour a day after. 

Charamba rejected widespread speculation that his boss’ absence at the prayer breakfast to launch a national dialogue, called by the churches was to spite Chamisa, claiming instead the president had other commitments.

Information gleaned from authoritative Zanu PF officials revealed that the ruling party was distrustful of a western Scandinavian country that it claims has links to the MDC, sponsoring the church initiative.

At the Thursday church meeting attended by government ministers, members of the opposition parties, and delegates from industry, the security sector, civil society, human-rights groups, trade unions, as well as international observers, including some ambassadors, the general secretary of the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC), Reverend Kenneth Mtata said national dialogue was the church’s answer to the crisis.

He said the ZCC, which hosted the meeting together with the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops’ Conference, the Evangelical Fellowship of Zimbabwe, and the Union for the Development of Apostolic Churches in Zimbabwe Africa had recognised that “the nation finds itself at the cross-roads,” and said “the churches had made their voices louder regarding the urgency and necessity of a national dialogue.

“There was an appetite across all sectors for dialogue,” Mtata said.

“I was overwhelmed: we got more than we expected. We can move forward with so much confidence.”

He said Mnangagwa, who had been expected, but pulled out at the last minute and was represented instead by the chair of the Zanu PF party, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri, who read out a speech by the president saying that he was ready for dialogue, would be briefed personally later in February.

Analysts predicted that eventually, Zanu PF and MDC will reach a compromise, adding the present stand-off is largely posturing and political gamesmanship.

Namibia-based academic Admire Mare said Mnangagwa and Chamisa must agree on a negotiator first and then meet to resolve the political and economic crisis.

“Eventually they will have to talk in order to unlock the political gridlock which has kept the country in limbo for the past seven months. Dialogue is a process which encompasses climbing down and up depending on the wider balance of forces,” Mare told the daily News on Sunday.

“It’s normal for the two to play hard ball at the formative stages of 

the process. Both sides are bringing their preconditions to the table, which is very normal. However, there is need for a mediator to help these parties to find each other and address issues like the military factor, human rights violations and the legitimacy question,” said Mare.

Professor of World Politics at the London School of Oriental and African Studies, Stephen Chan, said even if Mnangagwa and Chamisa were to agree on some power sharing arrangements, the economy will remain a source of problems.

“Basically, all they could talk about would be how much power can be shared. Neither man, however, and neither party, has a realistic economic plan. The truth that both decline to share with the Zimbabwean people is that the economic foundations of the country are so corroded that no rescue plan can succeed without causing, for something like five years, very much more suffering than even now. No one has the political courage to say that in Zimbabwe right now,” Chan told the Daily News on Sunday.

International Crisis Group senior consultant for Southern Africa Piers Pigou said there is need to come up with an inclusive framework for talks and a credible convener, otherwise grandstanding and posturing will continue.

“The faceoff between ED and Chamisa illustrates precisely why this process cannot be an exclusive political exercise, and must include civil society and other constituencies. A more inclusive process must also be facilitated by a credible team that understands process and can introduce a measure of accountability,” Cham told the Daily News on Sunday.

“We should not be surprised to see the old and young bull circling each other and sizing each other up, but both will have to do a lot more to convince Zimbabweans and others that these postures are anything more than a play to retain or assume power,” said Pigou.


    Comments (21)

    legitimacy is not an issue because ED won the elections . Chamisa wants to get into government via the back door .

    Hayibo - 10 February 2019

    kana akahwinha ko masoja arikudei mustreet

    g40 - 10 February 2019

    These talks are a waste of time and a subversion of democracy. If they are `going to benefit the nation they should not be about Chamisa and Mngangagwa because they dont own this country. Every citizen has a right to have their voice. Every political player, business and the church must play. The central theme should be about how can we work together (even though we may have different points of view) to have a better Zimbabwe.

    The beautiful ones are not yet born - 10 February 2019

    Looking back at Chirau and Muzorewa, they had some maturity and wisdom for navigating and fitting their parties in national political matrices. With MDC-A, Chamisa wants to fit in by inciting and instigating people into riotous and violent demos, and he is proving to be good at that. But unfortunately, twice that has happened, and twice there has been loss of lives, looting, thuggery and destruction of people's and state property. Politically thus, MDC-A cannot be ranked high, its looking more like a REBEL OUTFIT by each day bent on destruction and destabilization. And we cannot afford a "RENAMO" outfit in Zim!!

    Will Blackman - 10 February 2019

    ED is an illegitimate leader who has neither the ability nor the wisdom to lead. There are two things he can do, one is the right thing he SHOULD do : to listen to the will of the people , respect the constitution, return the army to the barracks and actively and honestly engage with the opposition and the second thing he WILL do: which is the exact opposite. This is due to his total inability to grasp how the real world works and total mortal corruption.

    Ken Sharpe - 11 February 2019

    ED has no brains to lead this country.same as chiwenga.they only know corruption and looting like what they did to marange diamonds and nearly all the gold mines

    Danmore - 11 February 2019

    I don't understand how doing Chamisa's will will solve solve the country's economic problems. Does he have a hand in our miseries?

    Godknows - 11 February 2019

    It is unfortunate that Zimbabwe may go through another thirty something years of wasted time by pretending not to know what the majority of our people want, The Zimbabwean problem is being personalised by a few individuals. The pple know what they want and f how they want it. Creating parties and leaders to confuse pple who have refused to be confused will not work. Please be real and come to terms with REALITY.

    gonzo - 11 February 2019

    Even the daily news is getting stupid as well. You are saying smaller parties have no power, and insinuating that Chamisa has power, power to do what. What power is in Chamisa's hands, aprt from power of unmitigated stupidity and foolishness in public??

    Danayi Pazvagozha - 11 February 2019

    From MDC point of view, it seems the talks are around legitimacy, while from Zanu point of view will be around how we can work together as a nation. From Zanu point of view, there is no need of a mediator while from MDC point of view there is need for a mediator. So unless we understand what the talks will be about, we will continue round in circles.

    Mu - 11 February 2019

    Chamisa is NOT serious. Just do the Talks and get over with this. No to these international mediators - We want local cause they wrap-up things faster as they are also feeling the economic heat.

    Nyandoro - 11 February 2019

    A country with so many educated people who are admired all the world and yet can not solve their own problems leaves one wondering if we ZImbos are really educated . With the comments above and more to come simply show that Zimbabwe will never come out of the woods.Inhamo kuvana vedu.

    chimuti - 11 February 2019

    This is a tricky situation. If Advocate Chamisa recognises Mr Mnangagwa as the legitimate President of Zimbabwe, would the talks still be necessary? By ratifying the muddled elections would he be able to push for reforms? Finally, if the Advocate recognises Mr EDM would the military role in Zimbabwe's politics be diminished? ZANU pf vs the Military - who really should the Advocate address? Where does the real power lie?

    New Dispensation - 11 February 2019

    Why Chamisa wanted foreign hand before we start with our local one.Why he failed to go to meet ED at the state house but at the same time said that he is prepared to meet ED at any time.Zimbabwe is not only for ED and Chamisa. ED he did not achieve 100% vote that is with Chamisa. MDC-A do not have 100% vote in August House same to Zanu pf.

    Voice - 11 February 2019

    MDC-A is RENAMO's reincarnate - the only language that they understand is the bullet - twice they tried it twice innocent lives were lost - I am keen to see Chamisa dn Biti at the front next time there is a demo

    willo - 11 February 2019

    Willo is a CIO, he thinks we cant read between the lines. The problem in this country is this greedy party called ZANU PF which keeps on rigging elections in broad day light. Therefore our problems are political and ZANU PF is one of the problems, they take people for a ride. Hee dialogue, don't you know the problem? RIGGING RIGGING , RIGGING, RIGGING ELECTIONS. The will of the people must be respected for any country to have peace, and development. ED being the rigger, want to be the mediator himself, does that work, you want to be judge and jury. These talks must have an independent mediator to be successful.

    Baba Mary - 12 February 2019


    Bonganilishe - 12 February 2019

    IF YOU SEE ED SAYING COME FOR TALKS, IT MEANS HE IS NOW FULLY SATISFIED THAT HE IS A DISMAL FAILURE. THE TIME HE WAS THINKING THAT HE CAN NEET SOMETHING, HE WAS SAYING I DONT TALK TO THE LOSERS. EISH ED YOU NOW WANT TO TALK TO THE LOSERS, WHY?, You are eligitimate, you are just a porn put there by Chiwenga. ED has no real power, that why the can not do anything to the military. In fact ED is just the front screen of a TV.

    Gandanga - 12 February 2019

    Chamisa agreed to accept the Constitutional Court ruling judgement over the Presidential result. Later he did a turn around. Does he mean he will not pay the costs he incurred in losing that case? If he does / has done then he is agreeing to that ruling. Politics is about negotiation not riding your high horses til they run our of breath. Political disruption will not get Chamisa anywhere. At the end of the day the country desperately needs to hold a referendum on the way forward recognising the President of Zimbabwe is Emmerson Mnangagwa. The convener and moderator of the talks does not have to be an individual - there are many able men and women in Zimbabwe full of wisdom who can facilitate the process. The church and others are well experienced and equipped for conflict management and resolution. President Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa do not necessarily have to attend every session. They have able and capable juniors who can represent them. Most importantly all Zimbabweans should be given the opportunity to contribute to the national dialogue. The current navel gazing by our political leaders will not fully represent what the nation and future generations aspire for.

    Daniel 5 - 12 February 2019

    Chamisa is rubbish. He failed to articulate his economic policies last year on HardTalk interview and Oxford university. He was told that blaming Mugabe or ED is not an economic policy.

    Ndiani Ndiani - 12 February 2019

    Truly speaking this thing called dialogue is just a waste of time. Dialogue between who and who? If it is dialogue on any other matter affecting the people yes. But if it is about this nonsense from chamisa of legitimacy then its just a waste of time, because by refusing to recognize a President voted for by us the majority it means chamisa does not regard us as equal human beings. So there is nothing totally to dialogue on if it involves the nonsense of this idiotic misinterpreted word legitimacy. Why do america want to remove sanctions after our government fulfillment of their project's demands. I urge President ED to concentrate on things that make this country move foward and forget about this silly power greedy goon.

    shunguhadziurayi - 14 February 2019

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