By Tinomudaishe Chinyoka
There are truths, and then there are truths. Some truths are mundane, needing no qualification because they are just factual. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa won the July 2018 elections with 2,460,010 votes, which was a good 308,083 more than what Nelson Chamisa got. Simple, factual, mundane.
But, other truths evoke reactions in the hearer. Often times they hit the heart with so much zing that one is left reeling. Ever heard the phrase “truth hurts”? To this class belongs such truths.
When a woman says to her husband, in the immortal words of John Chibadura “Kugara uchindirova kani, ini ndaneta, ndiendese kumba kwaMai vangu”. Truth. With zing. You brought this on yourself, l am going home.
The only trouble with the second truth is that people don’t say it often. People, out of politeness, massage these truths, and like to say them in a polite coating that takes away the zing. It could be culture, it could be lack of courage, but whichever way, truth with zing is sacrificed and a commoditised version is normal currency.
Those who like to ‘zing’ are called arrogant or corky or downright rude. When l was falsely accused of beating up a lawyer (I didn’t) friends said ‘I read about this, but I didn’t believe it, but if he had said you told him some truths, then yes, I would have believed.’
Shingi Munyeza, pastor, businessman and one of the President’s independent advisors, sent a zinger the other day: we love dialogue, but that dialogue will not lead to elections. Because that train has left the station.
AGO Mutambara, student leader par excellence and former Deputy Prime Minister of the Republic of Zimbabwe opined with another painful truth: “I want to urge the MDC Alliance to think about being strategic. What do you want? One day you say ‘we don’t want an inclusive government, we just want reforms’ and another day ‘we want an NTA (National Transitional Authority)’. Its a joke because there is no-one who accepts that. The opposition won’t accept that because they want to be in power and in government and ZANU PF won’t accept that. And now two weeks ago ‘We want two years for Mnangagwa and two years for MDC’ and the next day ‘we don’t want that’.’’
We have heard posturing and demands around the President’s call for a National Dialogue. The MDC Alliance, who have so far boycotted this initiative, have made some demands. They want something they call a ‘legitimacy crisis’ to be resolved. They want a neutral third party to supervise and ‘mediate’ the dialogue.
To support their arguments, they argue that Nelson Chamisa has more votes that all the ‘losers’ that have agreed to attend the dialogue. They point to Smith’s Rhodesia and the arguments around talks in 1976. They point to South Sudan, DRC and Somalia. Daily, Chamisa tells his supporters that ‘we are the legitimate government, we won the elections.’
It is necessary that some truths be recalled.
The only time where a ‘best loser’ is relevant is in sports qualifiers. If you come second in a Presidential election, you lost. There is zero difference between Nelson Chamisa and the person they have made into a piñata: Brian Mteki. They both lost. Truth.
There is no comparison between Rhodesia, Somalia, DRC or South Sudan with Zimbabwe. Those were post conflict situations. It was necessary for negotiations, with the parties knowing that they could go there with pre-conditions because each side had something to bring to the table and each something to lose. In a negotiation, you can even expect compromise, because you want the other side to also compromise.
In this dialogue, the losers cannot make pre-conditions. If the President feels that he wants to include the people he defeated in conversations about how we move our country forward, he is not saying he can’t run this country alone. He is not saying he doubts his clear mandate.
He therefore has no reason to entertain preconditions. In fact, he has no lawful authority to do so. If the President negotiated away his authority and his mandate, he would be derelict in his duty. Can you imagine the illegalities that attack to the petulant cry of “Mnangagwa ngaambodhonza 2 years ini ndouyawo ndoita 2 years”? Some lawyers might even sue him.
Home truths are necessary. This dialogue can not legally lead to elections. Elections are coming in 2023. Not before.
This dialogue cannot, and will never result in a Chamisa presidency. Ever. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is President of the Republic of Zimbabwe until Inauguration Day in 2023. Fact. Any claims to the contrary are hallucinations.
We are all Zimbabweans. Of course, it would be good for us to be pulling in one direction. It would be good for us all to support the President as he builds the national cake, but we know that some are busy putting sand in the mixture.
And, in order to do that, dialogue is useful. Not just political parties dialogue, but national dialogue. Everyone. We can only achieve our optimum if we are working together. Even the good book in Amos 3 vs 3 says: “Can two walk together, unless they are agreed?”
But, to get there, we need truth, cold, hard, naked truth with zing. Dialogue will never result in a Chamisa presidency. There is no legitimacy crisis. Maybe a crisis of expectations in one of the 23 losers, but that is all. Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa is the President of the Republic of Zimbabwe until 2023, at least, and no dialogue, even one mediated by aliens from Mars of Xylon, will change that.
Tinomudaishe Chinyoka is a former student leader from the University of Zimbabwe who is now a Harare based lawyer and member of the ruling Zanu PF party.