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Zanu PF, MDC formations refuse to meet in one room for dialogue



POLITICAL enmities among the ruling Zanu PF and MDC formations — the MDC Alliance and MDC-T which are fighting a vicious battle for the control of the heart and soul of the main opposition movement — have prevented facilitators of dialogue on critical issues affecting the country from bringing the parties into one room for engagement.
The Zimbabwe Institute (ZI), a local policy think-tank and civil society institution, has been organising various meetings and activities among political parties represented in parliament to deal with key issues and create common ground for dialogue.
The government-convened Political Actors Dialogue has been boycotted by the main opposition MDC Alliance and thus failed to make headway in resolving the political stalemate and governance legitimacy crisis emanating from disputed elections.
The ZI has been working to facilitate high-level dialogue among political parties in the country, and with their peers in the region and internationally. Over the years, ZI has provided strategic leadership, focus and built consensus through facilitating engagement between civil and political societies.
However, last month ZI failed to bring Zanu PF and the two MDCC factions into one room to deal with conflict resolution and mediation issues at meetings held at Troutbeck Resort in Inyanga. Instead of having one meeting among the parties, the convener held several meetings with them separately as political hostilities and distrust among them ran high.
“ZI, with the help of experts from South Africa and Switzerland, held several meetings in Nyanga with Zanu PF, which was led by Patrick Chinamasa, MDC Alliance led by Tendai Biti and MDC-T headed by Thokozani Khupe,” a source among the parties said.
“The meetings were on conflict resolution, mediation and reducing political tensions in the country. In real terms, it was a conflict resolution meeting. But we have been holding a series of meetings for a long time dealing with various issues, including capacity building, women issues, youth matters, digital skills, electoral reform and conflict resolution. The idea is to build confidence and trust among the parties so that they can engage on important issues affecting the country. Lessening political tensions is very important. Meetings have been held in Harare, Bulawayo and Nyanga.
“Before the 2018 elections, there was a lot of progress, but after that there has been some challenges in facilitating engagement on key issues affecting the country.”
However, efforts to lessen political hostilities and tensions will continue.
“We have been holding these meetings and they will continue,” the source said. “The parties are supposed to meet and talk in one room to enhance confidence, trust and understanding, but that has not been possible for now. That is why they recently met separately and on different dates.”
A Zanu PF official said it was difficult to engage the MDC Alliance since its leader Nelson Chamisa refused to recognise President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s disputed wafer-thin 2018 election victory.
“Chamisa said he did not and won’t recognise Mnangagwa’s win, so that makes it difficult for them to talk,” the official said.
Commenting on the recent Nyanga engagements, a senior MDC Alliance leader said: “We held separate meetings because coming together with Zanu PF and MDC-T in one room is like holding a meeting with two Zanu PF formations. MDC-T is Zanu PF; that is their real constituency. They don’t have people. So we can’t attend such meetings.”
MDC-T have repeatedly denied that they are Zanu PF surrogates fighting the MDC Alliance.
Despite their hostilities, the parties acknowledge ZI remains critical to building consensus around a peaceful democratic transition in Zimbabwe by facilitating the engagement and participation of a wide range of stakeholders in the process. It also conducts research and develop policy solutions in important political, social and economic areas such as land and agrarian reform, economic development and transformation, education and health, constitutional reform and good governance. – STAFF WRITER