By BLESSINGS MASHAYA
ZIMBABWE opposition leader Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC says he is willing to meet and engage with his Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) counterpart, Nelson Chamisa, to help unite the country’s divided opposition ahead of next year’s crunch national elections.
Speaking to the Daily News yesterday, Mwonzora said he recognised that unity among opposition parties remained the most viable way to end the ruling Zanu PF’s decades-long dominance of local politics.
At the same time, Chamisa himself said yesterday that unity among Zimbabweans was crucial if the country was to achieve its developmental goals.
“Unity of opposition parties is very important. But this unity has to be predicated on certain fundamental values.
“There must be mutual respect among political leaders and there must be a scaling down of hate language which we see every day on social media.
“There must be a de-escalation of hostilities among the political parties, a stop to the name-calling and all the issues that divide the opposition,” Mwonzora told the Daily News.
“We have made efforts to engage other opposition leaders, but I can’t name them for now.
“We did this with a view of approaching the 2023 elections with one objective, which is to have credible elections which reflect the will of the people.
“Unity of the opposition will help us to demand electoral reforms and in the end defeat Zanu PF.
“I did meet one high-ranking official from CCC who said to me they are for unity and I told him that if they were serious they would know the protocols involved,” Mwonzora further told the Daily News.
“I am the president of MDC and I will only talk to another president of a political party. I have talked to people from Zanu PF whose history with us is far from pleasant.
“They have arrested me on 34 occasions but I still talk to them and I see no reason why I can’t talk to anyone else in this country, including Chamisa. But I can only talk to a person who is willing to talk to me.
“I think that in any of our approaches to national issues we must put personal egos aside and look at the interests of Zimbabwean people. I have been consistent on that,” Mwonzora added.
“I did make efforts to meet Job Sikhala. However, CCC came out guns blazing trying to embarrass us when we were trying to help a colleague to get out of prison.
“But because of this sick way in which some people view politics, it was made an unpleasant issue,” he also said.
This comes as Mwonzora has repeatedly emphasised that there is no bad blood between him and Chamisa despite their political differences.
Speaking in April on independent national television channel 3Ktv’s popular current affairs programme, Vantage, Mwonzora said his political rivalry with Chamisa was a result of their disagreements on key issues.
“I don’t think that there is bad blood between myself and Chamisa in the sense that there is nothing personal between the two of us.
“We had a rivalry … starting from the days when we were contesting for the post of secretary-general (in the MDC) and so on.
“But there is no bad blood between me and him. We do not agree fundamentally on leadership style. I don’t agree with him on that,” Mwonzora said then.
“I didn’t agree of course with the disrespect of the constitution and so on. So, there are things which we disagreed about. But there is no enmity between the two of us,” he added.
Mwonzora’s political rivalry with Chamisa shot to the public fore in 2014 after the former beat the latter to the MDC’s secretary-general’s keenly-fought position that year.
Meanwhile, Chamisa yesterday backed growing calls for unity and peaceful elections in 2023. Writing on Twitter, he also said that he remained a proponent and defender of multi-party democracy in the country.
“Zimbabwe shall not be a one-party State … We will unite all Zimbabweans and build a formidable team, ‘Team New Great Zimbabwe’ of the able and competent from across all parties.
“May Zimbabwe be renewed and begin to grow in tolerance, being able to attract quality in its leadership ranks.
“There are no genuine reforms in the Zanu PF government’s proposed electoral reforms by the Cabinet.
“A pre-election pact on reforms by all parties, civil society and stakeholders is key. Any unilateral political decision will produce a disputed and discredited national leadership,” Chamisa said.
On the other hand, firebrand former Zanu PF youth leader, Godfrey Tsenengamu, has also called for unity of the opposition ahead of the 2023 elections.
“The third way is a home for all progressive Zimbabweans who have chosen to set aside their petty differences and selfish ambitions.
“We are advocating for the unity of all opposition parties and this will help Zimbabweans to defeat Zanu PF next year.
“There is no better time than the present, for all progressive Zimbabweans within and without our borders to come together and provide much-needed solutions for the restoration of our nation and broken livelihoods.
“An inter-generational consensus must be reignited for us to have a unified vision for our country,” Tsenengamu said.
Other opposition bigwigs such as MDC vice president Elias Mudzuri and that party’s national chairperson Morgen Komichi have also previously stressed the importance of unity of the opposition, which they said was key if they were to have any chance against Zanu PF in the fast approaching 2023 national elections. – Xinhua