By Blessed Mhlanga
President Emmerson Mnangagwa was asked by MDC-T leader Douglas Mwonzora to consider scrapping pending by-elections when the two met under controversial circumstances at State House on June 11, The Standard has established.
Mnangagwa met Mwonzora while in the company of Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga.
The MDC-T leader revealed after the meeting, described by his lieutenants as secretive, that he had tabled a set of “damands” to the Zanu PF leaders, but flatly refused to disclose them, saying he was waiting for the president’s written response.
This publication, however, has since obtained a copy of the four-page document Mwonzora gave Mnangangwa. The suspension of by-elections, which if done, would give Mwonzora an edge over Nelson Chamisa’s MDC Alliance in the fight for recognition as the main opposition party in Zimbabwe.
The MDC-T leader justified the proposal to suspend by-elections, saying it would give Zimbabweans time to “find each other”.
“While Zimbabweans are talking and finding each other in this serious manner it seems unnecessary to introduce something divisive as by-elections,” he said in the statement.
“It is, therefore , suggested that while discussions are going on regarding aforementioned issues, by-elections be suspended.
“In order to avoid prejudice to the electorate, it is suggested that an arrangement be made for parties to make replacements of vacancies in their areas of control as guided by law.”
Following a controversial Supreme Court ruling last year, MDC-T has recalled dozens of MDC Alliance legislators and councillors amid accusations that it is aiding Mnangagwa’s ambitions to create a one-party state.
Mwonzora denies allegations that he is a Zanu PF puppet, but he has indicated his eagerness to work with the ruling party while pushing out Chamisa’s group.
In his submissions to Mnangagwa, he also proposed a new dialogue platform between MDC-T and Zanu PF to be known as the Parliamentary Dialogue Forum (PDF).
He said PDF would be made up of five Zanu PF legislators, five MDC-T legislators and two chiefs. The platform would have Zanu PF and MDC-T principals while excluding MDC Alliance.
According to the document, the PDF would have its own secretariat where Zanu PF and the MDC-T will second officials that would be on a full salary.
“The two political parties to select two salaried and specific coordinators each, who sit in the PDF,” reads the document.
Mwonzora assured Mnangagwa that there would be no further talk of the 2018 general elections as that was water under the bridge as concluded by the Constitutional Court.
“The Constitutional Court of Zimbabwe made a definitive judgement, which in the party’s view settled the legitimacy question. To the MDC-T party the legitimacy is a settled issue,” he wrote.
The MDC-T leader also proposed timelines in which negotiations should have been completed.
“The parliamentary dialogue forum shall be set up by June 30, the thematic committee shall be set up by July 15 while considerations of the PDF report by principals be by October,” the document added.
“Under the new approach in all political, economic and social strategies, what is paramount are the best national interests of the Zimbabwean people.
Zanu PF factions, however, are reportedly not happy with Mwonzora’s proposal to suspend by-elections as they feel the party is well placed to win the polls, believing that the MDC Alliance is at its weakest.
The MDC Alliance is pushing for by-elections in order to prove that it is the party that enjoys grassroots support.
Mwonzora’s spokesperson Lloyd Damba yesterday insisted that the MDC-T leader was acting in the best interests of all Zimbabweans.
“I do not know the source of your document, so for you to say that this person or that person is a liar is neither here nor there,” Damba said.
“All I am saying is that the document you were given has clearly sent you far away from the scent and the prey.
“What we are doing is in the best interest of all Zimbabweans, so the misleading you allege falls off.
“We cannot give you the document now because it will be tantamount to negotiating in public.”
Mnangagwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said he could not comment on a private meeting.
“The interaction between President Emmerson Mnangagwa (and Mwonzora) was done behind closed doors,” Charamba said.
“Whatever documents transacted and commitments made in the meeting are between the two parties.
“I can’t stand in as the president’s spokesperson to comment on a document, which I am not aware of its authenticity.”
Zanu PF and Mnangagwa have vowed that they will not hold any talks outside the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad), which Mwonzora is hesitant to join, saying he does not qualify.
“Polad is limited in scope, it was defined as a platform where those who contested for presidency can have dialogue, which excludes me,” Mwonzora said.
“Therefore, as a lawyer I would not want to sit in a platform where my contribution does not carry legal weight.”
Mwonzora’s predecessor Thokozani Khupe represented MDC-T in Polad before her ouster last December. The Standard