By Tendai Kamhungira and Fungi Kwaramba
Opposition leader Nelson Chamisa revealed yesterday that his revered late predecessor, Morgan Tsvangirai, had died a bitter man after he was allegedly duped by President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his allies that an inclusive transitional government would be set up following the November 2017 soft coup which felled former president Robert Mugabe from power.
The stunning revelations came as Mnangagwa warned Chamisa yesterday against the MDC leader’s continued refusal to join talks aimed at resolving Zimbabwe’s decades-old political and economic crises on the president’s terms— saying this was tantamount to playing with people’s lives.
Speaking in Harare at the first anniversary of Tsvangirai’s death, Chamisa also said the country was continuing to experience major problems because Zanu PF had not fulfilled its promise to form a transitional government which would have resulted in the mapping of a credible electoral roadmap, the implementation of much-needed reforms and the restoration of political legitimacy in the country.
“I was asked by Tsvangirai to attend Mnangagwa’s inauguration at the National Sports Stadium, but I remonstrated with him saying these people could not be trusted.
“He (Tsvangirai) told me that he had been assured that a transitional arrangement would be formed that would set the reforms and conditions for free and fair elections, but that is not what happened and he died a betrayed man,” Chamisa said — vowing never to fall in the same trap again as the talk about national talks keeps gathering steam.
Speaking earlier, Tsvangirai’s emotional wife, Elizabeth, also revealed how a sick Tsvangirai had initially been upbeat about the army moving in to remove Mugabe from power — which was the reason why he had taken part in the marches in which Zimbabweans had demanded the nonagenarian’s ouster.
“His vision was for Zimbabwe to be united. He wanted to see the people free to express themselves and he yearned for the life that the country experienced in the early 1980s when the people had enough to eat. He wanted people to have jobs. He supported the new dispensation because he sincerely believed that it was going to be the beginning of a new era.
“Unfortunately, something else happened. For the sake of my husband, I would like to say the people should unite, not only in the MDC but across the political divide,” Elizabeth said.
Speaking in an interview with the Daily News last year, Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba also indicated that there had been a deal on the table for the country’s politicians to work together.
Charamba added that although he could not disclose intimate details of the discussion between Tsvangirai — who died on February 14 last year, and whose medical bills and funeral expenses were partly paid for by the government — “it was a forward looking agreement, but it appears that the MDC leader was interred with his vision that he had for this country”.
“Chamisa did not realise that there was prior dialogue to the structure which he has now assumed leadership of, a dialogue that went ahead of the party, a dialogue that was national in outlook. He jettisoned it, he fouled it, but I would still say better late than never. Now I am seeing he is coming round,” Charamba said then.
However, Chamisa who has whittled his initial 10 demands for talks with Mnangagwa to just two, said yesterday that just as Tsvangirai had refused to be assimilated by Zanu PF during Mugabe’s ruinous rule, he would also not fall into the trap of the current president.
“I have told Mnangagwa that we should unite the people, but he is not yet ready. I will only accept dialogue when we have a credible convener and then we will put down our demands.
“We can only start dialogue from that stage. We want to ensure that there are reforms so that in the future we will not have disputed elections. We do not want people like (Zimbabwe Electoral Commission chairperson) Priscilla Chigumba running the elections … we want reforms so that we will not have disputed elections,” Chamisa said.
To push Mnangagwa to the negotiating table, the charismatic opposition leader told his supporters that the MDC would use its democratic right to demonstrate and reclaim its “stolen power” from Zanu PF.
“The ZCTU is the one that organised the very successful shutdown (of last month), but then the authorities thought it was us the children who had organised that, mistaking a child for the mother.
“But I can tell you that when we organise it (their own shutdown) it will be bigger,” Chamisa said.
Meanwhile, Mnangagwa while speaking at a belated New Year’s reception for members of the diplomatic corps which was held at State House in Harare yesterday, also called on Zimbabweans to work together for the good of the country.
“On the 6th of February 2019 I invited the leaders of all political parties and former presidential aspirants in the 2018 presidential elections to an unconditional dialogue aimed at narrowing our political differences and drawing a common socio-economic future and political path for our country.
“All presidential candidates who have the maturity and sense of leadership joined us. I call on those who refuse to take part in the national dialogue to stop grandstanding and playing games with the lives of the people of Zimbabwe,” Mnangagwa said.
Chamisa snubbed last week’s meeting insisting that he would only enter into formal negotiations with Mnangagwa if certain conditions were met.
Among his demands are mediation by a neutral third party and a requirement that all “prisoners of conscience” be freed, and that there be an immediate return to the barracks by the military.
Speaking yesterday, Mnangagwa said continuous dialogue within the country was something that he was determined to do as the country’s president — but accused “foreign hands” of fuelling last month’s violent fuel protests.
“What is indeed worrisome is the premeditated nature of this unprecedented violence, including active participation by extraneous foreign hands in collaboration with local surrogates, disguised as political, civic, labour, academic and non-governmental groupings.
“The demonstrations were therefore neither civil nor peaceful and were bent on effecting regime change,” he said — adding that the events, including the death of at least 12 people, and the alleged torture and rape of women by State security agents would be investigated.
“Any evidence of rogue police officers or soldiers taking the law into their own hands will be dealt with, and they will face the force of the law,” Mnangagwa said.
Mnangagwa also said the painful policy decisions that were being taken by the government were meant to improve the economic situation in the country. In order to succeed, we are aware that we must make tough decisions such as balancing our budget, bringing in investors and attracting FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) so that we create more jobs for our people,” he said.
He also said that his government was in the process of implementing the recommendations of the Kgalema Motlanthe-led Commission of Inquiry into the August 1 post-election killings.
This comes after Zimbabwe was last month thrown into a ginormous crisis when angry protesters flooded the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and several other towns across the country, demonstrating against sharp fuel price hikes.
Property worth millions of dollars was also destroyed and looted in the mayhem which ensued, after thousands of workers heeded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions’ three-day strike call.
At the same time, security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown against the protesters, the opposition and civil society leaders — in a move which received wide condemnation in the country and around the world.
Rights groups also continue to report human rights abuses by security forces — including galling allegations that soldiers had raped women and girls during their much-condemned crackdown against innocent civilians. Daily News