THE Joshua Nkomo National Foundation (JNNF) says it plans to celebrate the late Father Zimbabwe Joshua Nkomo’s birthday with a rare political party leaders’ get-together bringing among others President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to share a meal of cow hooves. Nkomo, born on June 19, 1917 passed away on July 1, 1999 at the age of 82.
The JNNF, a trust formed to celebrate the life of the late Vice-President, has been holding annual events in June and July in remembrance of the former liberation war giant. A fortnight ago, the JNNF held a virtual memorial lecture that was delivered by the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (Osisa) executive director Siphosami Malunga.
The lecture was held under the theme Celebrating 40 Years of Independence – Back to the Future.
JNNF director-general Tapela Mmillili said the get-together had nothing to do with trying to lay the groundwork for political dialogue between Chamisa and Mnangagwa following the disputed 2018 polls.
“Traditionally, leaders will come together and share a meal of amangqina (cow hooves) while having a conversation about many different issues not necessarily politics. We want to bring the elders of Zipra, Zanla and most importantly those of Zapu and Zanu PF and other political party leaders in that context,” he said. “For us, it is also a birthday, but in the context of having the elders coming together to have a conversation and should anything come out of it, good for the country but for us it’s just about offering a platform for dialogue.”
Mnangagwa and Chamisa — while noting the need for dialogue to move Zimbabwe forward — have adopted diametrically different and rigid positions, frustrating any prospects for the holding of talks in the foreseeable future.
Mnangagwa is currently having talks with fringe opposition parties under the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) forum, a platform Chamisa dismisses as a Zanu PF choir. “I am sure you are aware of the formation of the Polad and in general the views of the people in society are that this must be inclusive. We know Chamisa has his own reasons for not attending Polad and wanting a different platform; and the same goes for other leaders,” Mmillili added.
“However, the Joshua Nkomo Museum and Centre for Dialogue hosts a number of dialogue sessions, offering a platform for dialogue, be they political or economical and in this case it is about bringing our leaders to have a conversation in that traditional sense.”
Analysts and the clergy emphasise the need for dialogue to find a lasting solution to the country’s socio-economic crisis.
“Political and policy consensus must be reached, leading to a national settlement that will transform purely competitive and mutually exclusive visions to a shared national vision in which everyone feels included,” Zimbabwe Council of Churches general-secretary Kenneth Mtata said yesterday.