MDC divided over talks: Chamisa wants them but bigwigs say ‘no’

FRESH divisions have emerged in the opposition MDC as its bigwigs are not happy with the idea of the party engaging in a national dialogue with the ruling Zanu PF.

Rising inflation and a general spike in the cost of living has piled pressure on the country’s political protagonists to find a lasting solution to the floundering economy. Members of the clergy and civic organisations want President Emmerson Mnangagwa and Nelson Chamisa to engage in a dialogue aimed at defeating the current socio- economic crisis.

But some senior MDC members, led by the party’s co-vice president Tendai Biti, are against the idea of engaging President Mnangagwa in a dialogue, because the ruling party’s policies will lead to its natural death.

Biti has already hit the ground running mobilising structures to go against the idea.

It is said that those resisting dialogue with Zanu PF have raised concerns over the mistrust that existed between the MDC and Zanu-PF during the days of the inclusive government (2009-2013).

Insiders say while the MDC document, “Roadmap to Economic Recovery, Legitimacy, Openness and Democracy” (RELOAD) talks about dialogue, talks at this critical moment will not do any good for the opposition party.

“Biti is referring to the 2009 scenario where Zanu PF under the late Robert Mugabe formed a government of national unity with the late Morgan Tsvangirai that breathed life into the ruling party, so Biti is not willing to engage,” a source said.

In a recent MDC national council meeting, Chamisa is said to have accused Biti of causing divisions in the party. “Chamisa told Biti that he should know that he was a prodigal son, and that he was supposed to support the idea of national dialogue otherwise he would face the music,” said the source.

Members that include deputy national chairman Job Sikhala, national chairman Thabitha Khumalo, Elias Mudzuri and youth leader Obey Sithole are also against the idea of a national dialogue.

“If you see the youth wing is against the idea of a dialogue, they want to confront Zanu PF with demonstrations, through which they think they can find a lasting solution to the problems facing the country,” the source said.

When contacted, Biti was reluctant to comment on the matter, referring Business Times to RELOAD.

MDC spokesperson Daniel Molokele confirmed the differences in the party on dialogue, saying there is a “robust debate [on it] in the national council”.

“Most of the party members have given the party leader the mandate to
engage in discussions with Zanu PF with a neutral mediator presiding,
but other party leaders don’t want the party to be involved in talks with Zanu PF for fear of being taken for granted by Zanu PF,” Molokele explained.

“As we state in our RELOAD document, the dialogue must ensure that the country breaks away from the vicious cycle of disputed elections through an agreed national transitional mechanism whose mandate will be to implement a raft of comprehensive reforms that must culminate in a free, fair and credible election as the only way to return the country to legitimacy,” he said.

“Arrogance and pride will not help because the people are suffering.
It does not help that Mnangagwa seeks to re-engage the world when
he is not engaging nationally with a key national player who has over two
million supporters in the country.”

Early this year, President Mnangagwa established a Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) platform where political party leaders meet to proffer solutions to the country’s political, social and economic problems.

Chamisa has snubbed the meetings saying he will only attend one convened by a respected neutral mediator. — Business Times


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