BY RICHARD MUPONDE
President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s controversial platform for opposition parties is at risk of becoming irrelevant due to MDC-T’s reluctance to endorse it following the elevation of Douglas Mwonzora.
MDC-T was one of the fringe parties that founded the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) when it was still under the leadership of Thokozani Khupe in the aftermath of the July 2018 elections.
Mwonzora replaced Khupe as leader last December following an extraordinary congress that was ordered by the Supreme Court.
Mnangagwa envisaged that Polad would bring together political parties that participated in the polls, but in some circles it was viewed as a manoeuvre to weaken MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa’s challenge against the Zanu PF leader’s legitimacy.
Since then, Zanu PF and its leader have insisted that there can be no dialogue with Chamisa outside Polad.
On the other hand, the MDC Alliance leader insists the electoral dispute can only be resolved through bilateral talks between his party and Zanu PF.
The dynamics seemed to change dramatically on Friday after Mwonzora snubbed a Polad meeting convened by Mnangagwa. It was the outfit’s first meeting following the MDC-T leadership changes.
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Mwonzora’s spokesperson Witness Dube yesterday told The Standard that the new MDC-T leader did not attend the meeting because they preferred more inclusive dialogue beyond Polad.
“The MDC T president did not and will not attend Polad in its current form,” Dube said.
“We are canvassing for a broad-based dialogue which will include other stakeholders like churches, traditional leaders, labour bodies, student bodies, other political parties that did not have presidential candidates, captains of industry and all manner of Zimbabwean leadership in their diversity.”
He, however, claimed that MDC-T had not pulled out of Polad, saying Khupe had joined as a presidential candidate.
“We have not pulled out of Polad,” Dube said.
“Our understanding is that Thokozani Khupe went into the platform as a presidential candidate.
“MDC-T as a party is now going to sit and give a policy direction on its participation in Polad.
“Political, economic and structural conditions have drastically changed since the formation of Polad.
“So we now need a more enriched approach to national questions, which includes other stakeholders outside 2018 presidential candidates and their immediate parties.”
Mnangagwa on Friday waxed lyrical about the MDC-T, describing it as patriotic and the official opposition party.
Austin Chakaodza, a Harare-based political analyst, said Mwonzora’s stance on Polad could be influenced by the desire to protect his image as Polad was discredited.
“After all, Polad is merely a talk shop going nowhere,” Chakaodza said.
“Mwonzora is struggling to seek widespread support from members of his party and from the public.
“As such, he is prepared to ditch Polad even if this would put him at cross swords with Mnangagwa.”
He said MDC-T was right in calling for inclusive dialogue as it was the only way to deal with Zimbabwe’s intractable economic and political problems.
“All those interested in stopping the economic carnage, political decay and decadence in this country should close ranks and collaborate and demand for an inclusive national dialogue,” Chakaodza said.
“However, the dialogue should not be between the ruling party and the MDC Alliance alone.
“It should be broad-based to include other stakeholders such as business organisations, trade unions, women organisations, academics and members of civil society.
“Without including these sectors of society, no meaningful dialogue will ever succeed.”
Former Industry minister Nkosana Moyo’s APA was one of the first parties to pull out of Polad, describing it as an inappropriate platform to solve the country’s problems.
Lovemore Madhuku, whose National Constitutional Assembly is yet to win an election since its transition into a political party in 2013, remains one of Polad’s prominent backers outside Zanu PF.