Tuesday, 22 November 2016

TSVANGIRAI, MUJURU TO MEET IN SA

THE on-again, off-again coalition talks between Zimbabwe’s opposition parties are set to resume in South Africa next week after an international think-tank agreed to facilitate them, as the drive to have a single candidate face President Robert Mugabe in the 2018 election gathers momentum.

Letters of invitation to the coalition talks were addressed to party presidents, but it was not clear by yesterday whether MDC-T leader, Morgan Tsvangirai and ZimPF’s Joice Mujuru would attend in person.

Opposition party leaders, who spoke to NewsDay, confirmed the talks – which will also touch on the unending political and economic problems the country faces – were on the cards, but pleaded that the issue be kept out of the public domain, fearing the Zanu PF government would try to derail the initiative.

According to sources, the high-level meeting will be convened by In Transformative Initiative (ITI), an organisation that seeks to assist and support peace-making processes by drawing from the South African experience.
 

ITI works towards promoting dialogue among citizens, government and any other sectors, where conflict and violence exists or might become a possibility. According to one of the key organisers of the meeting, the majority of Zimbabwe’s opposition leaders are willing to participate and find a lasting solution to the country’s problems.

“There is an invitation for approximately 16 political parties to discuss the current political and economic crisis in the country to see what options there are for possible solutions,” the source said.
“The purpose of the meeting will be to analyse the current crisis in Zimbabwe, to consider options and the way forward, as well, as to discuss a future vision with democratic values as well as agree on pragmatic actions and steps towards transition.

“Ultimately, and if agreeable to all the parties, the opposition leaders will discuss a grand coalition to bring the parties together and field one candidate to face Zanu PF in the 2018 elections. The meeting will persuade other leaders to accept a coalition and discuss technical issues surrounding the way forward should all the parties be amenable to it.” 

Although most opposition leaders confirmed the meeting, MDC-T secretary-general, Douglas Mwonzora said his party was still to receive the invite, but said they were unlikely to participate.
“We are not aware of it and maybe our invitation is coming, but I doubt if MDC-T will be part of it. We don’t know the objectives of the meeting and we are not sure of the criterion used to select the parties,” he said.

ZimPF spokesperson, Jealousy Mawarire confirmed the invitation, but said they would not participate.

“I understand that they have invited us, but as a party, we are not going,” he said, adding: “We started these talks on our own and people should give us a chance to carry on with the dialogue process that we are currently seized with without external interference. We haven’t reached a deadlock and certainly the services of a mediator are not necessary at this juncture.”

One of the opposition leaders, who requested anonymity, said they had been gagged from releasing details about the talks, as there was little progress in coalition talks, necessitating outside intervention.

“You know we are facing a lot of challenges in Zimbabwe, both politically and economically. We have had meetings before under the National Electoral Reform Agenda and Coalition of Democrats (Code), but there is little progress in forming a strong and united force to challenge Mugabe,” the opposition leader, who claimed the MDC-T had also been invited, said.

“This is going to provide another chance of negotiating to leaders, who think they can go it alone.”
Another leader pleaded for the meeting to be kept confidential until it is held to avoid eroding trust among opposition leaders.

Some small parties have already agreed to work on a coalition under Code, but the absence of the MDC-T will likely make it less influential. newsday

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