BY BLESSING MASHAYA

Pressure is on for MDC leader Nelson Chamisa to hold talks with Zanu PF President, Emmerson Mnangagwa.

WITH the 2023 elections getting ever closer, churches and civil society have launched a new national dialogue initiative to help end the country’s decades-long myriad challenges.

Speaking yesterday, the leader of the Zimbabwe Divine Destiny Network, Bishop Ancelimo Magaya — who is set to lead the latest initiative — said the church and civil society were keen to get the nation to engage in discussions around reforms, corruption and social justice.

This comes amid growing calls for President Emmerson Mnangagwa, opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora and Nelson Chamisa to put their differences aside and engage in necessary talks ahead of the fast-approaching 2023 polls.

While all three men agree on the need for dialogue, they currently differ on the platform to be used for the talks.

Mnangagwa, and lately Mwonzora, wants the talks held under the auspices of the Political Leaders Dialogue (Polad), while a fearful Chamisa is insisting on bilateral talks between him and the Zanu PF leader.

“Yes, we have started a dialogue initiative. The agenda is for all Zimbabweans to define their destiny. We are still in the early stages of talking to all Zimbabweans.

“There are a number of areas that we are going to tackle together as a nation. As church leaders, we are saying that there has to come a point where a citizen-driven process has to happen.

“It is being started by churches and civil society in general and we are going to engage all Zimbabweans, including political parties,” said Magaya.

“We are going to discuss issues to do with reforms, corruption, social justice and the economic meltdown of our nation.

“We are interested in the good governance of this nation. We are going to have a launch of this initiative soon,” he added.

However, Magaya was reluctant to divulge the names of the people and organisations that they had engaged so far.

“For now I cannot tell you the people we have engaged with. What I can tell you is that we have many civic society groups and church leaders who have shown interest in this initiative.  

“I wouldn’t want to pre-empt anything as of now, because we have assigned each other to approach different stakeholders and there is a lot of interest on this issue.

“It’s premature for me to give details. We are engaging all Zimbabweans who are interested in seeing the country moving forward,” Magaya further said.

All this also comes after Mnangagwa said last week that he would scale-up national dialogue programmes, as a way to foster unity for national development.

Addressing the Zanu PF central committee in Harare ahead of the ruling party’s annual conference that was held in Bindura, Mnangagwa also called upon his supporters to preach the message peace and unity.

“Under the second republic, we will scale-up programmes that enhance dialogue, social cohesion and national unity.

“We are indeed diverse, but one people, with one national anthem and one national flag.

“Upholding constitutionalism, democracy and the rule of law, as well as the protection and preservation of our rich cultural heritage is sacrosanct,” Mnangagwa said then.

“Similarly, our people deserve the protection of their national pride, identity and dignity.

“I, thus, urge the central committee to always preach love, harmony and hard honest work for the sustainable development of our great country.

“This is the true meaning of independence, freedom and democracy,” Mnangagwa added.

Recently, Mwonzora also said surging reports of both intra and inter-party political violence in the country made it imperative that politicians come together to engage in necessary dialogue to break the violence and to end the country’s history of hotly-disputed polls.

“The resurgence of violence is very concerning and vindicates our proposition that there must be comprehensive reforms for our electoral process.

“Insisting on elections without reforms is foolish bravery. This doesn’t augur well for our politics and more importantly for our economy.

“The time for dialogue is running out and we need reforms. We are in an election season which means that we need to deal with the issue of violence, hate speech and other reforms through dialogue,” Mwonzora said at the time.

Recently, a new talks initiative was also launched by a South Africa-based think tank, the Zimbabwe Institute (ZI), to help bring the country’s three main political players to the negotiating table to discuss reforms ahead of the 2023 national elections.

ZI is said to have already opened channels of communication with the country’s major political groupings led by the “Big Three” of local politics — Mnangagwa, Mwonzora and Chamisa.

Well-placed sources in Zanu PF, the MDC and the MDC Alliance told the Daily News that ZI executive director, Isaac Maphosa, would facilitate the dialogue — with the three political groups having allegedly already deployed point persons for the mooted talks.

On Zanu PF’s side, it was claimed that its secretary for legal affairs in the politburo, Paul Mangwana, and his deputy Fortune Chasi would represent the party.

The MDC would be represented by secretary-general Paurina Mpariwa and her deputy Sibusisiwe Bhuda Masara, while Chalton Hwende and Jacob Mafume would represent the Chamisa faction — it was further claimed.

In the meantime, both inter and intra political party violence has been on the rise across the country, ahead of the 2023 elections which are once again expected to be hotly contested.  – Daily News.