The opposition MDC says it is committed to “real dialogue” to solve the political and economic crises in the country, but will not be part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s Political Actors Dialogue (Polad).
Mnangagwa has been holding talks with leaders of fringe political parties that took part in last year’s elections to try to resolve the country’s political and socio-economic crisis, which continue to worsen.
MDC deputy spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka told NewsDay: “Polad is a political graveyard judging by the paltry votes garnered by all of its members, starting with Mnangagwa himself, whose votes Zec (the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission) whittled down a record three times.
“The collective position of all sane Zimbabweans is the position taken by president (Nelson) Chamisa, which is to snub such comedies at a time citizens are suffering.
“That Mnangagwa continues to talk about Chamisa betrays the real character that Zimbabwe needs for the country to move forward.”
Zanu PF and MDC leaders appear to be taking positions ahead of the expected return of former South African President Thabo Mbeki before the end of the year to push for talks to end the economic crisis.
Mbeki in his visit last week in Harare held meetings with the two protagonists in Harare as well as other political, civic society and church leaders.
However, Mnangagwa at the weekend told a meeting of his Polad partners at his farm in Kwekwe that he would not dialogue outside the forum.
“Mnangagwa cannot be the convener of an honest and sincere and credible dialogue. That gathering at his farm is a charade. We are talking here of unity of the people and not the unity of leaders over a bottle of whisky,” Tamborinyoka said.
“The people are suffering and this Polad political soliloquy has been on-going endlessly with no respite on the lives of the people. It is a self-serving charade. With that troop of political nonentities, Polad is akin to whistling in a political graveyard.”
MDC spokesperson Daniel Molokele weighed in, saying: “We are not interested in joining Polad. We are very clear that Polad is not a credible process. Chamisa is not in any political wilderness. He is the most relevant politician right now and is taking a principled stance in the interest of the people of Zimbabwe. The MDC itself is very happy not to be associated with Polad.”
Analysts who spoke to NewsDay yesterday called Mnangagwa’s dialogue platform a waste of time and resources if it does not involve Chamisa, the leader of the largest opposition party.
Political analyst Alexander Rusero also described Polad as a charade that Mnangagwa created.
“You can’t sit around with a bunch of electoral losers and pretend to be talking and in the process, leave out your main rival,” Rusero said.
“For starters, it is Mnangagwa who is setting the pace, agenda and at times venue to conduct the ‘dialogue’ meetings. That must not be the case. Real dialogue with real players will come, only after Zimbabwe has reached the mutually hurting stalemate like what happened in 2008.”
United Kingdom-based Zimbabwean lawyer and political analyst Alex Magaisa said attempts to trivialise Chamisa’s consent to dialogue were futile.
“They have already tried it with the Political Actors’ Dialogue. Without the biggest opposition leader, Polad was a sham from the beginning,” Magaisa wrote on his blog on Saturday.
“It has since proved to be no more than a group of enablers desperate to align with Mnangagwa and using attacks on Chamisa and the MDC Alliance to buy their way onto the gravy train.
Polad was presented as an inclusive dialogue, but for Mnangagwa, it is just a platform to trivialise and dilute his main rival, Chamisa.”
He added that Chamisa would lose credibility among his party’s followers if he joins Polad, adding even if they gave it a new name, it would still be foul.
Notwithstanding the criticism, Polad on Sunday presented a list of what they termed the successes of the platform, which observers described as shameful.
Polad listed, among its success stories, a visit to the Cyclone Idai-ravaged Manicaland province, where together with Mnangagwa they toured affected areas.
Manicaland was early this year hit hard by Cyclone Idai, which left 634 people dead and 257 missing.
Polad only visited together with Mnangagwa to witness the handover of donations and listing that as an achievement was largely criticised by observers.
“The visit to Cyclone Idai by Polad delegates led to conscientisation of the nation about the problem and the need for urgent intervention by different stakeholders,” the report to Mnangagwa by Polad read.
“The coming together of political actors under one banner and the official launch symbolised unity of purpose,” Polad said.
The dialogue platform also listed an interface it had with the Finance and Industry and Commerce ministers as well as Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor and other government officials as a success.
Among other “success stories” mentioned by Polad was its participation in the anti-sanctions march in Harare.
Magaisa, however, criticised the so-called achievements, saying: “Mnangagwa’s Polad lists its ‘achievements’ in 2019. They even claim credit for ‘conscientisation of the nation about (Cyclone Idai)’ apparently because of their ‘visit to Cyclone Idai’. They obviously have an exceedingly generous estimate of their role and relevance. Deluded!”
Also listed as a success was the participation by Polad members in Mnangagwa’s clean-up campaign held every first Friday of every month. NewsDay