POLAD, the only dialogue platform

Charlene Shumba

Opposition political players, particularly those from the MDC family in all its variants, sometimes exhibit astonishing lack of depth and understanding of political dynamics. They fail to read the mood. They fail to gauge the political wind. They feign lack of understanding even, choosing to play to the gallery for political expediency and newspaper headlines.

A local private daily led with a rather curious headline, “VP tipped to be ‘talks point man’…as Mwonzora formally approaches ED on dialogue.”

Two things sprang into my mind on the veracity of such a headline. Assuming there was to be dialogue between MDC-T and ZANU PF, it would be the highest level of naivety to have a player in Vice President Constantino Chiwenga, himself the second in command to President Emmerson Mnangagwa, being an arbiter in dialogue between President Mnangagwa and MDC-T leader, Douglas Mwonzora. It is unheard of. It is not plausible. It does not make sense.

It is apparent that there is mischief in the foregoing spurious assumption. It gives the false premise that VP Chiwenga is a neutral, yet he is ZANU PF through and through. He is part of the Presidium. The President’s position is automatically his. He represents ZANU PF. His veins flow ZANU PF blood. There is nothing that the VP would arbitrate as he would naturally forcefully push the ZANU PF agenda.

On this first point, the “talks point man” mischief is just that, mischief. A blue lie.

On the second part, it is shocking that a progressive opposition leader in Mwonzora, whose rational disputation politics has breathed a breath of fresh air into Zimbabwe’s democracy, following the toxicity that has characterised MDC Alliance leader, Nelson Chamisa’s politics since his usurpation of the reigns in that party, has chosen to play to the gallery by “formally,” requesting for talks with the President.

It is common cause that President Mnangagwa values dialogue with all interest groups in the country, spanning politics, economics, social groups, among others. To that end, since the inception of the New Dispensation, he has steadfastly engaged in dialogue with War Veterans, religious leaders and business leaders.

In this connection, the President fresh from electoral victory in 2018, established the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), itself a political platform to engage all Presidential losing candidates in the governance of this country. To this day, POLAD is in existence and functional.

It is trite to note that, Chamisa, out of politics of shayisano, chose and continues to distance himself from POLAD, insisting on special dialogue with President Mnangagwa on the non-issue of legitimacy. This absurdity has been rejected for what it is, an absurdity.

ZANU PF has a two thirds majority in Parliament and is in full charge of the Executive. It secured its mandate in a free, fair and credible election in 2018. There is no question about its incumbency, serve for the shrill noises from the MDC-A, which I must hasten to add have not found any takers locally, regionally, continentally, and indeed worldwide.

It is, thus, incredulous that the seemingly learned Mwonzora, who assumed the MDC-T presidency in a disputed election, and whose party and erstwhile leader, Thokozani Khupe, was a member of POLAD, would seek to engage in dialogue with ZANU PF outside of POLAD.

Smart as he looks, Mwonzora knows that Chamisa has tried this, and failed. The only dialogue platform for political actors is POLAD. If Mwonzora has anything to say, the platform is there, all he has to do is show up and air his views. There will not be, and should never be, any special treatment accorded to a singular opposition political party. The only dialogue in town is on governance issues, not legitimacy or other such inane subjects.

The MDC-T is free to engage all sectarian groups in the country pursuant to its political agenda, but politically, POLAD is already there when it comes to dealing with ZANU PF.