By Tatenda Chitagu/nqobani ndlovu/ brenna matendere
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa says he has given up on dialogue with President Emmerson Mnangagwa over disputed elections and the opposition party is changing tack in its efforts to force concessions from the ruling party.
Chamisa has consistently refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s 2018 poll victory, accusing the Zanu PF leader of rigging the polls with the help of the military.
On the other hand, the president refuses to hold talks with his main rival outside a platform he created with fringe political parties that took part in the controversial polls.
Chamisa said Mnangagwa stood to benefit from the proposed talks, but had spurned his overtures.
“Mnangagwa refused talks,” he said on Friday in Masvingo where he attended a memorial service for MDC founding leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“ I tried to bring him to the negotiating table.
“We all know every conflict ends with talking. “We wanted to give peace a chance.
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“But we won’t reach the 2023 elections before the 2018 elections deadlock is sorted.
“We are very clear about what we are saying. “He won’t govern this country.”
Last year security forces crushed MDC protests across that country that were meant to force Mnangagwa to the negotiating table.
In January last year, the army was accused of killing over 17 people after protests erupted over a steep increase in the price of fuel.
Chamisa said by calling for dialogue, he was trying to help Mnangagwa stop the country from descending into chaos.
“I am trying to help him to stop the country from burning,” he said.
“We have nothing to lose. Zanu PF has everything — the farms, banks, big stomachs among others. If things come to a head, ED and Zanu PF will lose more.
“We are organising. He refused talks, what should I do with him? We are organising in whispers.”
Chamisa said his supporters must be prepared for “action”.
“We are delayed, but we will not be stopped,” he said. “Others say you should lead from the front. You do not teach me the struggle. I have been in it for too long.
“Revolutionary action is a creature of revolutionary moments.
“We will do anything at the right time, when the time comes and permits. The darkest hour is near dawn. We will get there.”
Chamisa said there was fear in the region that Zimbabwe’s situation was deteriorating.
“Well, generally there is a shared view that a burning Zimbabwe will set ablaze the entire region, there is fear that the situation has reached very dangerous levels and proportions and it has to be resolved,” he said in an interview in Bulawayo.
“What is not clear yet is how to resolve it, but we have given an alternative platform of dialogue because we have to give peace a chance. We have to give an amicable solution an opportunity.
“We believe that in all contestations, in all disputes, disagreements, dialogue becomes the natural entry point.”
Chamisa has refused to join Mnangagwa’s Political Actors Dialogue.
Chamisa insists on a neutral convener. The clergy have also spoken on the need for a broad-based dialogue involving a cross-section of stakeholders and not only political parties.
The church once suggested that elections be shelved for a period of seven years to allow the country to heal and achieve a common goal.
“If we are to fight whether on the streets, on the ground, in the air, wherever, you have to come to some understanding as Zimbabweans.
“We share a country, a history, a future and we have a common identity as Zimbabwean people, so dialogue is not something that you can wish away,” Chamisa added, noting the 2018 election dispute should also be resolved.
“I know a lot of people have said that. That is what South Africa has also said about dialogue. “That has always been my insistence…You can’t have a 2023, or 2022 or any future election without resolving the disputed elections of the past because elections have been emptied of their meaning.
“They have become rituals. They are just on the calendar but have no significant value in transforming a nation. “
Meawhile, Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda dismissed speculation that there was friction between the MDC leader and the party’s chairperson Tabitha Khumalo.
“I need to deal with the rumours that seem to suggest that a president’s exercise of powers to appoint individuals to specific roles is or can be subjected to anything other than his own considerations of what is in the best interest of the party, the country and the world,” he said.
“There is no issue at all, the rumours are baseless and external.
“The sources of the rumours are external to the party and they have two objectives — the first one is to divide the party — since Zanu PF is at war.
“The second one is to try and control the president’s appointments through the abuse of the media.”