As calls for national dialogue get louder….is it going to happen anyway?

By Tafadzwa Muranganwa

President Emmerson Mnangagwa through his official Twitter account insinuated the need for a national dialogue  which many opposition leaders and civic organisations had been insisting on, but will these talks materialise?

Below is the except of   President Mnangagwa’s tweet which implied that the country’s leader was warming up to talks   after the deadly protests that  broke out last week.

“I invite leaders of all political parties as well as religious and civil leaders to set aside our differences and come together. What unites us is stronger than what could ever divide us. Let’s begin a national dialogue. Let’s put the economy first. Let’s put the people first ,” posted the 76-year-old leader.

In response MDC Alliance Nelson Chamisa set the conditions for the dialogue.

“ In order to dialogue, one’s tongue must be free to talk.

“We call for the unconditional release of all prisoners of conscience and political detainees whose rights continue to be violated,” said the youthful leader who narrowly lost to President Emmerson Mnangagwa in last year elections.

Many civic organisations   have responded to the call.

According to Heal Zimbabwe, there is the need to specify what would be the agenda of the talks, define the role of the political parties, churches   and civil society  among other issues.

“Heal Zimbabwe values national dialogue but what is the entry point to this dialogue, what is the role of Chapter 12 commissions in this dialogue, what is the role of political parties, church and  civil society  and  the role of citizens in this national dialogue?,” states the civic organisation in a statement.

The Crisis in Zimbabwe Coalition while it is supports an ‘inclusive stakeholders’ dialogue   it however casts doubts  over the genuineness of the call.

“Despite calls for a national dialogue by the president, false accusations and charges continue to be labelled against civil society leaders and labour.

There is clear insincerity on calls to engage in a dialogue,” doubts the NGO umbrella body which has been accused of fomenting the protests that ensued during the 3-day stayaway.

The organisation’s fears  may have been compounded when the presidential spokesperson George Charamba on Wednesday is reported to have distanced  President Emmerson Mnangagwa from the ‘national dialogue’ tweets when he dissuaded  people to believe in all the tweets that come through the Zim leader’s verified twitter account.

Political commentator Vivid Gwede   believes that a national dialogue is imperative and urged President Emmerson Mnangagwa to ‘walk the talk’.

“The country is suffering a plunge in confidence in its institutions. This needs a rebooting of the social contract and the opposition, the civil society, the church and the society in general are ready for talks. Why are they not happening?

“Mnangagwa has been talking about talks but we have not seen him walking the talk,” argues   Gwede.

The Zanu PF leader has been among intense pressure to start talks to solve the economic malaise currently bedevilling the country but reports have suggested that some hard-liners in his party are foiling the process.