Association for Free Research and International Cooperation

Is dialogue the solution to Zimbabwean Challenges?

Article from AFRIC Editorial
As Zimbabwe's economy continues to nosedive with no hope of turnaround in the near future. The hopeless masses turn to social unrest as they get tired of an incompetent clueless leadership always chanting commonplace rhetoric. Calls for dialogue between President Emerson Mnangagwa and his counterpart Advocate Nelson Chamisa are increasing. Churches, civic societies and the masses have been calling for dialogue to clear the political impasse between these two leaders following the disputed presidential polls of July 2018. Nelson Chamisa has failed to recognise Emerson Mnangagwa as the legitimate winner of the elections. He contested the results through a constitutional court challenge which nevertheless confirmed Emerson Mnangagwa as the winner.

As much as both leaders publicly agreed that there is need for dialogue, Chamisa has not accepted Mnangagwa’s calls for dialogue through the political actors dialogue [PolAD]. He claims the election was rigged in favour of his counterpart. Though he has mentioned the need for dialogue several times, one of his conditions for dialogue is Mnangagwa must acknowledge that he is not a legitimate leader. He further demanded that results of the 2018 polls must be nullified to pave way for a transitional government that will heal the battered nation. It’s a no brainer that Mnangagwa will not walk an inch in that road.

While calls for dialogue are intensifying from both local and international forums, there are a few fundamental questions to be answered. Is dialogue the solution to the challenges bedevilling the Southern African nation? Will a union of ZANU (PF) and the main opposition MDC Alliance be a game changer to the country’s casino-type economy battling under intensive care? Will heading the call for national unity abate the ever-volatile social upheavals that resemble a country tribally and politically polarised? Will dialogue help to bring a paradigm shift in people’s thought process and incubate a fresh impetus that will leapfrog the country’s prospects of getting out of economic doldrums? Has dialogue historically worked in solving socio-political impasse? An attempt to answer the above questions may help to make an intelligent guess on whether dialogue might be the answer.

With both hindsight and foresight pointing to the possibility of dialogue as the only answer to a plethora of problems facing Zimbabwe, it is important to note that only ZANU PF and MDC Alliance conspicuously stand tall as the chief actors. Thus, involving other actors into a dialogue without these two main contenders is a sheer waste of time. For any investor to consider Zimbabwe as a safe destination, the political environment must be stable enough to create the right fundamentals for business to prosper. But that is not the case in Zimbabwe. The main opposition has been out and about mobilising a series of diplomatic offensives against the ZANU PF led government. This has left investors wary of the risk and uncertainty charactering the country.

To get progress on all areas of national importance, there is undeniably a need for national consensus. The two main political players must sing from the same hymn book. They must all forego personal selfish motives and consider the welfare of the suffering masses. Were they not singing campaign manifestos that were hopeful to the expectant electorate? Were they not promising to serve the people? Were they not eager to address bread and butter issues?

Mnangagwa and his government are suffering one big blow: they cannot be trusted! Forming a coalition government with the opposition could be the only way to renew the broken trust. During the GNU period, there was more FDI, why? Because there was trust in the system. What we saw after ZANU PF won the 2013 elections was a fall in public and investors’ confidence in the government drastically falling. Subsequent to that, there was capital flight which saw investors moving their nostro investments to other countries. The resultant liquidity crunch forced the monetary authorities to introduce bond notes which further worsened the country’s economic situation.

Looking back in the annals of history, it was dialogue that ended the long agonising battle of the second Chimurenga through the Lancaster House Conference and brokered a peace pact which gave way to the country’s independence and the subsequent birth of modern day Zimbabwe. Thus, dialogue culminated in a ceasefire that averted the regrettable loss of life. Soon after independence, Zimbabwe was rocked by a terrible tribal and political standoff between ZANU and ZAPU. The friction was so rife that in some instances, their military personnel clashed more often posing the risk of a possible civil war.

The situation was further exacerbated by the infamous Gukurahundi genocide that ruthlessly claimed more than 20000 people in Midlands and Matabeleland region. But dialogue between ZANU and ZAPU successfully amounted to a peace deal between the two arch-rivals leading to the subsequent formation of a united front called ZANU (PF). Robert Mugabe, the then president was awarded the glorious Nobel Peace Prize Award for containing a potential civil war. Though the effects of Gukurahundi are still fresh in the minds of the victims, Zimbabwe enjoyed a period of relative peace and stability whose fruits were seen in the commendable economic growth that was registered.

In 2009, dialogue worked to solve another deadlock between Robert Mugabe and his bitter rivals Morgan Tsvangirai. Tsvangirai had won the presidential election but failed to garner majority vote of 51%. This led to a run off which was characterised by violence and voter intimidation forcing Tsvangirai to withdraw leading Mugabe to run a one-man race that he won. What followed was a deadlock that was dissolved by dialogue between the two leaders with the help of Thabo Mbeki. The leaders agreed to form a GNU whose tenure was characterised by economic stability, peace and development. In Africa dialogue worked in Sudan, DRC and Rwanda just to name a few. Globally, dialogue helped in easing the tension between North Korea and South Korea. It is therefore sufficient to say that dialogue could be the answer to a plethora of problems facing the nation of Zimbabwe.

Article from AFRIC Editorial

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