THE interim MDC leadership is keen to hold talks with President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Zanu-PF, with a view to forming a new government of national unity (GNU).
Speaking separately to the Daily News yesterday, acting MDC national chairperson Morgen Komichi and party secretary-general Douglas Mwonzora said that another GNU would help to resolve many of the country’s myriad challenges.
This comes as calls for dialogue between Mnangagwa and key stakeholders in the country, including the opposition and civil society organisations, have reached a crescendo.
It also comes as interim MDC leader Thokozani Khupe and her party rival Nelson Chamisa continue to be involved in a fierce, but futile war for the control of the country’s largest opposition outfit.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, both Komichi and Mwonzora confirmed that they were keen for talks with Zanu-PF, as part of efforts to try and resolve the country’s decades-long political and economic crises.
“We want talks that will culminate in a mechanism that will alleviate the people’s suffering like we did in 2008 when the level of suffering had become unbearable.
“We negotiated and came up with a GNU. So, the same is necessary now. Whatever name you give to the platform — GNU, National Transitional Authority or anything else — must be an outcome of a negotiation.
“What is key is that, as a party our ambition is not to take over the State presidency, but to make sure that we work towards the improvement of our people’s lives,” Komichi told the Daily News.
“People are suffering. There are no jobs, incomes are very low and we cannot continue like this,” he added.
On his part, Mwonzora hinted that the MDC had already put in motion plans to hold talks with Zanu-PF, with regards to the mooted GNU.
“As the MDC, ever since we were formed (in 1999), we have always been for dialogue. We think that Zimbabwe’s problems can be resolved through dialogue.
“The problems of this country cannot be resolved through confrontation, acrimony, rancour and violence.
“So, yes, when the time comes, when the internal process is done and when our consultations are completed, you will see us calling for dialogue,” Mwonzora told the Daily News.
“There is enough historical evidence in this country to show that most of the problems and big issues are resolved through dialogue.
“The liberation war ended with dialogue. The Gukurahundi in Matabeleland ended when Zapu and Zanu completed that Unity Accord.
“In 2008, after Mugabe lost to Morgan Tsvangirai, we engaged in dialogue to resolve that national question.
“We will be always for dialogue, but internal process will have to be done first,” Mwonzora further told the Daily News.
However, MDC insiders claimed that informal talks between Zanu-PF and their party had already begun.
“The SG (Mwonzora) is in constant touch with … (name of senior Zanu-PF official mentioned but withheld because he could not be reached for a comment) over the GNU issue, and good progress is being made.
“What is probably left for formal talks to begin is for us to conclude the extraordinary congress so that there is clarity on the MDC presidency.
“The winner of the congress will most likely become prime minister as well as the official opposition leader in Parliament, and that is why it has become difficult to come up with a consensus candidate ahead of the congress.
“Party youths, especially those manning Harvest House, have since been informed about the possibility of a GNU,” one of the well-placed sources said.
Last month, Khupe appeared to give a hint about the mooted talks when she said she was ready to engage in dialogue with Mnangagwa “to improve the livelihoods of 14,6 million Zimbabweans”.
“If those who think that dialoguing with the president is selling-out, I say I am going to be dialoguing for a better life, then let me be a sell-out. But I will deliver a better life to everyone at the end of the day.
“Dialogue energises people to work together and that is the reason why after every election we must expeditiously get out of the election mode and move forward towards the development agenda.
“As the leader of the opposition, I am going to be dialoguing with the president for a better life for everyone,” Khupe said after she was sworn in in Parliament.
The former deputy prime minister in the short-lived but stability-inducing GNU of 2009 also said the role of opposition parties was not to be unnecessarily adversarial, but to hold the government to account for its actions, as well as providing solutions.
“I would also like to state categorically that our purpose as MDC … is not just about power and positions.
“Our purpose is about advancing the interests of the 14,6 million Zimbabweans so that they have a better life. The sad reality is that for others it is just about power and positions.
“For the reason that I did not get the power and position that I wanted … Zimbabwe must come to a standstill because I did not get the power and position that I wanted,” Khupe also said during her swearing-in ceremony, in a thinly-veiled swipe at Chamisa and his supporters.
In 2009, the late former president Robert Mugabe was forced into forming a GNU with the MDC’s late and much-loved founding father, Morgan Tsvangirai, after the hotly-disputed 2008 polls.
The short-lived GNU was credited with stabilising the country’s economy which had imploded in the run-up to those elections.
In those polls, Tsvangirai beat Mugabe hands down. However, the results were withheld for six long weeks by stunned authorities — amid widespread allegations of ballot tampering and fraud, which were later revealed by former bigwigs of the ruling Zanu-PF.
In the ensuing sham presidential run-off, which authorities claimed was needed to determine the winner, Zanu-PF apparatchiks engaged in an orgy of violence in which hundreds of Tsvangirai’s supporters were killed — forcing the former prime minister to withdraw from the discredited race altogether.
Mugabe went on to stand in an embarrassing and widely-condemned one-man race in which he declared himself the winner.