The election dispute between President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa will derail the country’s chances of moving forward, outgoing British ambassador to Zimbabwe Catriona Laing has said.
Speaking to journalists at Munhumutapa Offices soon after meeting acting President Kembo Mohadi, Laing beseeched the presidium to work towards ensuring that all stakeholders’ voices are heard.
This comes at a time when Mnangagwa is under pressure to accommodate Chamisa — his rival in the July 30 elections — who has insisted that he is the legitimately-elected president despite losing his electoral challenge at the Constitutional Court (Con-Court).
“There have been many positive changes but there are still some huge changes ahead. We talked about the elections and the positive steps around peaceful elections and the high turnout but also some concerns that the playing field is not completely even and the fact that the opposition has not accepted the results creates some challenges for Zimbabwe in terms of coming together as a country and moving forward,” said Laing.
Chamisa, who polled 44, 3 percent of the vote, losing to Mnangagwa who garnered 50, 6 percent, challenged the victory in the Con-Court, claiming the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission rigged the elections.
Although the Con-Court threw out his challenge and upheld Mnangagwa’s win, observers insist the Zanu PF frontman still suffers a legitimacy crisis.
To get the country’s economy to work again, there have been calls for the two leaders to find common ground.
While Mnangagwa, who returned from the United States where he attended the United Nations General Assembly in New York –has revealed that he is ready to accept Chamisa as the official opposition leader, his rival has rejected the arrangement, throwing the whole plan into disarray.
The European Union and Britain have particularly been linked to behind-the-scenes manoeuvres to get Mnangagwa to recognise Chamisa as the official opposition leader in order to placate the youthful politician who is refusing to accept the poll outcome.
Currently, the country is experiencing serious problems that include foreign currency and cash shortages.
Prices of basics are shooting through the roof and the bond note is fast losing value, owing to inflated exchange rates on the black market.
The unemployment rate, believed to be over 85 percent, continues to increase, as companies are facing serious viability problems.
“I urged the acting president to try and ensure that everybody’s voice is heard in Zimbabwe. He, of course, has an important role to play as the person responsible for National Peace and Reconciliation Commission. He updated me on the work that is planned and we are very supportive and encouraging that process,” Laing told journalists on Thursday.
Zimbabwe has been facing serious problems, owing to divisions based on political and tribal lines.
From the Gukurahundi massacres, where at least 20 000 civilians were killed, observers say nothing meaningful has been done to bridge the political and tribal gaps, which aspects have been militating against unity and the general growth of the country.
Since then, there have been allegations of political violence by the ruling party against the opposition, especially after the formation of the MDC in 1999.
Only recently, at least six people were shot dead by the army, following protests that took place in Harare on August 1, 2018.
Mnangagwa has since sworn in a seven-member commission of inquiry to look into events that led to the deaths.
It is headed by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe.
“We will also be following very closely the work of the commission of inquiry into the tragic events of August 1. We are encouraged that the commission of inquiry has been sworn in and there are very eminent people on that commission and we will be watching closely and look forward to seeing the results published and recommendations acted upon,” Laing said.
Meanwhile, Chamisa – through his spokesperson – has called for national dialogue with Zanu PF and other stakeholders to repair the current economic and political mayhem.
Nkululeko Sibanda, the spokesperson for the MDC leader, said his boss has a five-point plan capable of improving the country’s fortunes if implemented.
“We have a five-point plan for a national dialogue that would help boost confidence in our political processes and in our economy; the problem is if Mnangagwa does not listen,” said Sibanda.
“The five-point plan is well thought and aimed at easing the economy and I think Mnangagwa will be well advised to think about that because what is coming and what is happening right now is a total disaster”.
He said in order to move the country forward elections should produce a legitimate result that cannot be disputed, adding that independent commissions must be reviewed to make sure that they are entirely autonomous.
Sibanda said the capture of State institutions by sections of the military and government is contributing to the economic meltdown because it scares away investors.
Chamisa’s spokesperson spoke as Zanu PF’s secretary for legal affairs Paul Mangwana has highlighted that Mnangagwa is open for dialogue.
“Mnangagwa wants to speak to every Zimbabwean who means well for this country. If Chamisa means well for this country, the door is open for him to have dialogue with the president.
“Zimbabwe is not owned by one political party or by one individual, anyone who can add value to the well-being of our country is welcome to the table,” said Mangwana this week.
He said Chamisa should follow the proper channels for dialogue.
“I do not know how the approach will be, he has indicated that he wants dialogue, I’m sure he knows the channels used to reach out.
“The attitude of president Mnangagwa is very simple, every Zimbabwean who means well for this country should come to the table, the time for politicking and campaign
is over we are now running a country,” he said.