Chamisa’s talking points for dialogue

Review & Mail Writers

Opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa has added weight to ongoing discussions about national political dialogue in Zimbabwe, which could result in a co-governing structure between the ruling Zanu-PF and the opposition.

Over the past few weeks, talk about national dialogue – which is likely to consummate a power-sharing agreement between Zanu-PF and Chamisa’s party either before of after next year’s general elections – has been growing in strength. Looking at recent history the possibility has never been far off the table, anyway.

After over 20 years of close contests between the ruling party and the opposition, both sides – as well as the ordinary people and business – have appeared to be weary of the political attrition that has consistently provided low margins between the incumbent and the challengers in the opposition.

A co-governing mechanism in the form of power-sharing, inclusive or unity government has been seen as a solution to give the country a break from polarising and zero-sum politics.

Political parties, including the ruling party and its leader President Mnangagwa, are understood to be in favour of the arrangement, but differ on the structure and form. Churches and civil society, too, support the idea of such a consociational arrangement and have called for the suspension of election for seven years in a proposal they refer to as a “Sabbath”.

In 2019, Mnangagwa set up the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) platform but Chamisa – then leading MDC-T – snubbed the arrangement, which ended up attracting only fringe parties.

Now, having recently formed a new party that did well in the last by-elections, Chamisa appears to angle for talks, once again.

In a series of tweets last week, the opposition leader spoke on a number of issues affecting Zimbabwe economically and politically, suggesting a number of interventions.

As part of that cocktail of measures the opposition said: “…expedite a Pre-Election Pact on elections and reforms, constitutionalism and respect of human rights so we restore our integrity in the family of nations.”

“Genuine dialogue is key,” he said. Chamisa has previously refused to be part of Polad insisting on the same “genuine dialogue”, and it is widely understood that the youthful politician is seeking direct talk with his opposite number in the revolutionary party that has ruled the country since 1980.

Last month, the opposition leader made a similar call.

“It’s about 60 weeks to the 2023 general election,” he wrote on the microblogging site. “Any dialogue must be about reforms and the road to 2023, not a GNU. As Zimbabweans, we must find each other to avoid yet another disputed election and all its undesired consequences. We need a Pre-Election Pact on Reforms (PREPARE). Whoever wins an undisputed mandate in 2023 must then unite the nation, form a credible inclusive team Zimbabwe and deliver prosperity and happiness.”

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