Sunday, 1 November 2020

DESPERATE CHAMISA LOOKS TO RAMAPHOSA

EMBATTLED MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa is making renewed efforts to nudge South African President Cyril Ramaphosa,  to broker much-needed dialogue between himself and President Emmerson Mnangagwa, the Daily News On Sunday can reveal.

 So eager is Chamisa for Pretoria to show renewed interest in Zimbabwe’s political developments, that he recently led an MDC Alliance delegation to the South African embassy in Harare, where he met Ramaphosa’s ambassador  Mphakama Mbete — to whom he officially made his request for the SA leader to facilitate the mooted  dialogue.

This comes two months after Ramaphosa first dispatched special envoys to Harare, and later a highpowered delegation from South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), to try and assist Zimbabwe resolve its decades-long political and economic crises.

It also comes as churches and various other interest groups have stepped up their efforts to push Mnangagwa to hold crucial talks with all key stakeholders in the country, including the opposition and civil society organisations.

Well-placed sources in the MDC Alliance confirmed to the Daily News On Sunday yesterday that Chamisa had led a delegation of the coalition to meet with Mbete, relating to the urgent need for dialogue with Mnangagwa.

The sources said Chamisa was accompanied by the alliance’s secretary for international relations Gladys Hlatywayo, deputy secretary for local government Jacob Mafume and Harare North Member of Parliament Rusty Markham.

The meeting was held in the backdrop of claims by the opposition that Zanu PF was allegedly frustrating Pretoria and the ANC from returning to Zimbabwe to meet with opposition parties, the church and civil society organisations.

“The party believes that the crisis in Zimbabwe emanates from a disputed election. The president (Chamisa) met with the South African ambassador to make an official request for Ramaphosa’s intervention.

“When the ANC came, it was because they had observed the crisis. But we felt that we must make an official request for them to return. “Mbete told the delegation to be patient while South Africa continues to  e n g a g e  Mnangagwa’s government as well as Zanu PF.

“The team was told that South Africa was eager to see Zimbabwe’s situation resolved, because it was affecting them too,” one of the sources told the Daily News On Sunday. “Chamisa also requested to meet Ramaphosa’s special envoys and the ambassador (Mbete) promised to engage his president.

“Mbete promised that he would come back to Chamisa with a response as soon as possible. “However, he (Mbete) made it c l e a r that it w o u l d be difficult for South Africa and the ANC to convince Zanu PF about the need

 for dialogue if the MDC Alliance does not show respect to Mnangagwa and Zanu PF,” another source  added.

Contacted for an official comment by the Daily News On Sunday, Mbete said: “I know nothing about such a meeting”. On his part, Chamisa said he was not going to comment because he was not happy with the way the Daily News and the Daily News On Sunday were covering him.

This comes as both Mnangagwa and Chamisa have previously said that they were interested in dialogue, although nothing concrete has happened — primarily because of differences over the form and platform on which the talks should take place.

Mnangagwa has repeatedly said that he is prepared to engage the opposition, but only within the confines of the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) — a platform which brings together candidates of the 2018 presidential elections.

 At the same time, Chamisa insists on having direct talks with Mnangagwa outside Polad, which he claims is packed with the Zanu PF leader’s lackeys.

But there are still hopes that the much-talked about national dialogue could still happen after church leaders recently embarked on a fresh push to initiate talks between Mnangagwa and Chamisa.

Meanwhile, Ramaphosa and the ANC have said they are eager to help Zimbabwe end its longstanding political and economic crises, which date back to the tenure of the late former president Robert Mugabe.

In September, ANC bigwigs visited Harare for bilateral talks with Zanu PF, which gave them the green light to meet with local opposition groups and other key stakeholders in future. The two former liberation movements were described as having been very candid and robust with each other in their heart-to-heart dialogue, which was held at the Zanu PF headquarters in Harare.

At the end of their visit, the ANC bigwigs implored Zanu PF and the opposition to work together in the interest of the country, and to end Zimbabwe’s myriad challenges.

Briefing the media, ANC secretary general Ace Magashule said the meeting with their Zanu PF counterparts had progressed well as both parties were “frank with each other”.

South Africa and its leaders — including former presidents Thabo Mbeki and Jacob Zuma — have in the past successfully mediated Zimbabwe’s political crises.

A decade ago, both Mbeki and Zuma helped to broker the stabilityinducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition giant Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe — who are both late — following the hotly disputed 2008 presidential election.

Zuma also assisted in minimising Zimbabwe’s chaotic approach to the equally disputed 2013 national elections. Daily News

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