Opposition MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai has been accused of “stealing” the National Convergence Platform, a concept that he last week proposed for national economic revival.
Bishop Sebastian Bakare, one of NCP’s conveners said he was shocked when Tsvangirai claimed that his MDC-T party would convene the national dialogue, a concept that he said was originated by his group and to which the labour-backed party was invited to participate.
Bakare claimed Tsvangirai stole the idea from their concept paper written last November. A copy of the paper was seen by The Standard yesterday.
On Thursday, Tsvangirai told journalists that his party would organize a national dialogue to look at the problems the country was facingIn a letter written to some of the conveners who include Sapes Trust boss Ibbo Mandaza and political analyst Charles Mangongera, among others, Bakare said he was very shocked by Tsvangirai’s statement.
“On reading this statement, I spoke to the MDC-T President on the phone expressing my consternation at his statement,” Bakare said in his letter to his fellow conveners yesterday.
“His (Tsvangirai)’s response was that he did not intend to jump the gun and that he expects us to go ahead with our plans. I have been bombarded by people calling me and wanting to know what is happening and whether we had sold our souls to MDC-T.”Bakare added: “In order to make it clear to the public that there is a multi-sectorial initiative by concerned citizens which has reached an advanced stage but is not mandated by any political party, we will issue a statement in the newspapers to this effect.
I am writing to you as participants of the above group to assure you that we shall not be hoodwinked by anyone.
”He said the national dialogue was a project to be done by independent and non-partisan individuals, not under a political party.
The NCP was formed soon after the July 31 elections and participation, planned for March this year, was targeting key stakeholders from churches, student groups, labour, non-governmental organizations, political parties, among others, as citizens rather than groups.
The grouping had already reached to political parties and other key stakeholders with Mandaza last August addressing the MDC-T national executive while on a retreat in Kadoma.
The group claimed it had also reached to President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF and other stakeholders.Tapiwa Mashakada, a member of the MDC-T executive yesterday said Tsvangirai was quoted out of context saying the convergence would never be held by a political party, but independent Zimbabweans.Mashakada was MDC-T secretary general when Mandaza engaged the party over the issue.
“The NCP can never be held by a political party because the national crisis facing the nation is larger than political parties. It is biting all citizens regardless of their political affiliation,” Mashakada said.
He said Tsvangirai was only referring to it but it remained an initiative to be implemented by non-partisan players, and the MDC-T, Zanu PF and other political parties would be key players.
“Those neutral and non-partisan conveners of the idea would feel betrayed by some of us. I believe that the MDC-T leader’s statement is clear that it calls for the convening of dialogue by neutral Zimbabweans.
No political party should monopolise the project. As the MDC-T, we are still committed with the dialogue as previously conceived that it would be non-partisan.”Mandaza yesterday said the concept could have been leaked to Tsvangirai by other forces with the hope of destroying the initiative.
The project, Mandaza said, would be funded by the participants.Meanwhile, other opposition political parties and civil society organizations yesterday expressed reservations about what they had believed was a “Tsvangirai’s project”, preferring it to be held by neutral individuals.
MDC-T strong ally since its formation, the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union (ZCTU) said they were “very skeptical” about events organised by political parties.”Political party programmes are party business where we do not want ourselves to be involved. We are sceptical about these party initiatives.
Normally we are comfortable with involving ourselves with government policies” ZCTU secretary general Japhet Moyo said.
MDC-T Renewal Team spokesperson Jacob Mafume, who also spoke in the belief the concept was a Tsvangirai idea, said his party was surprised that Tsvangirai has seen the light of what they had been advocating for since the inception of his party at Mandel Training Centre in April last year.
“We mentioned the idea of a national convention in our Mandel resolution and we are however not in the habit of responding to weddings where the groom has not found a bride,” Mafume said.
Zimbabwe Democracy Institute director Pedzisayi Ruhanya said Tsvangirai must first find common ground with other opposition parties before he talks of a national indaba.