‘It’s time for real dialogue’
By Blessed Mhlanga
A member of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s advisory council, Shingi Munyeza says Zimbabwe needs a new political leadership and broad-based dialogue to tackle political and economic crises that have left the country on the brink of collapse.
Zimbabwe, already struggling with its worst crisis in a decade following successive droughts and shortages of power, medicines and currency crunch, last week admitted that it was headed for health and economic catastrophe from the coronavirus pandemic and failure to access lending.
Institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and World Bank stopped lending to Zimbabwe in 1999 after the country defaulted on its debt repayments and the country has often relied on loans from the African Development
Bank. Hopes that the removal of long-time ruler, the late Robert Mugabe and the election of Mnangagwa in 2018 would usher in new optimism quickly faded after a bitterly fought poll that left the country polarised and a series of missteps by the new leader.
Munyeza, who is also a respected businessman and preacher, yesterday said Mnangagwa was responsible for plunging Zimbabwe into the crisis and was not capable of resolving it.
“When you have no food, you have no water, when your kids cannot go to school, when there is disease on your doorstep and you do not have money, it is a perfect storm. The leadership that brought it there is not capable of actually taking it out of there,” Munyeza said.
“The systems that took us to where we are is incapable of taking us out of it, so we need new blood, new wine skins. That is why I am calling for young people to start climbing in and make sure that they take their place.”
Accused of being an enabler of the government led by Mnangagwa, Munyeza said there was need to deal with the current system and not individuals as what happened during the November 2017 military coup, but the entire leadership which has failed the people in delivering social services.
“That system is the one that says it is okay to close hospitals. It is actually a system, because people do not just wake up and say, you know, let us just lock up the hospitals, to actually bolt up the hospitals. It shows you something.
“It is a system and the values are faulty. All we are saying is it’s okay for people to die at home, because government was not able to show leadership and resolve their dispute with doctors.
It then calls for a different type of leadership.”
He added: “It is the same system that says it is okay that we do not have medication, but we go and buy cars. It is the same system that says our roads can be messed up, but we are allowed to buy the best cars in the world.”
Asked if he was not headed for a collision course with Mnangagwa, Munyeza said: “It is a system, it is a system whether he (Mnangagwa) is ultimately presiding over it, it is a system and I am not going for an individual, I am going for the entire system, it is wrong, it is faulty.
“When I am confronting, I am confronting a system… yes I am having a head-on confrontation with an occultist system that has impoverished you and I, you don’t even know whether your kids are going to finish school, in a country that has so much wealth, good weather, good people, good soils. What has gone wrong? It’s systems that have impoverished us.”
Turning to Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), Munyeza said the time had come for real dialogue to take place because Zimbabwe was reaching a “mutually hurting stalemate”.
“I think we are almost there, when two warring parties, and I do that as a pastor .… until people get to what is termed as mutually hurting statement, they will dialogue. We got to that in 2008, we had GNU (government of national unity). It was a mutually hurting stalemate, but it was then sorted out,” he said.
Munyeza dismissed Polad as a platform that had no capacity to bring solutions to Zimbabwe, insisting that genuine dialogue has to be broad, inclusive and should be underwritten by a respected mediator.
“For me, dialogue has to be a multiplicity engagement. If they say that there is a political dialogue of all those who participated as presidential candidates, it is a dialogue at their level, that is not the national dialogue.
“The national dialogue is inclusive, national dialogue has no preconditions; it must end up with a result that everybody who seats at the table is equal. So it must also have a convener and it must also have an underwriter to sustain it, so at the moment we can’t call one type of dialogue is a dialogue,” he said.
Zimbabwe has been experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade, and since last month Munyeza has been attacking the ruling elite, accusing it of causing untold hardships to the people.
Many have called on Munyeza to step down from his role as Mnangagwa adviser, with those in the opposition accusing him of grandstanding as part of the ruling elite, while those in the ruling party accuse him of selling out the trust bestowed on him by the President.
But Munyeza said: “I am not a paid official, so I do not get paid to advise the President.
“I am not an elected official, so I have no allegiances. But the President in his own way felt that I needed to be part of his advisory team and I serve at his pleasure, so I am not part of the system because I do not make the decisions.” News Day