By Robert Tapfumaneyi
ZIMBABWE’S church leaders are planning to set up a meeting between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his main opponent Nelson Chamisa in the wake of a crippling economic crisis.
This was revealed by Zimbabwe Council of Churches secretary general Rev Kenneth Mtata while speaking to NewZimbabwe.com Wednesday.
Mtata said church leaders under the umbrella group had met Chamisa who expressed his desires to meet Mnangagwa with hopes to set the country on a path to economic recovery again.
“The MDC president expressed his desire to meet his Excellency President Mnangagwa in order for them to deliberate on how to chat a shared vision to unify the nation,” said Mtata, whose church organisation has in the past months, fronted a spirited push for Zimbabwe’s political protagonists to sit down and dialogue for the national good.
“The church leaders agreed to reach out to his Excellency, President Mnangagwa to convey the MDC leader’s request for bilateral meeting, as well as for the church leaders to engage His Excellency on a broad range of issues of national concern.”
The church group’s meeting with the country’s most influential opposition leader comes after church leaders emphasised on a peaceful anti-government MDC protest against rising poverty levels this Friday.
“After extensive deliberations, issues that emerged are that the church leaders implored the organisers to make sure the envisaged demonstration would be peaceful, and we reiterated our previous calls for a lasting comprehensive and broad based national dialogue as a guarantee for lasting solutions to the myriad of national challenges,” the ZCC secretary general said.
“The MDC president expressed his and party’s appreciation to the church’s engagement and commitment to a comprehensive and broad-based national dialogue.
“The meeting agreed that the establishment of a multi-stakeholder consultative platform to ensure broad based ownership of the reform agenda could be one outcome of the national dialogue.”
The MDC leader and his party have refused to be part of an all political parties’ dialogue process initiated by Mnangagwa some months ago.
Chamisa, who came a close second to Mnangagwa in the July 2018 elections, insists he was robbed of victory by the incumbent and has refused to recognise the Zanu PF number one as the legitimately elected national leader.
He has insisted any dialogue process must have a neutral and credible convenor and must not be dominated by any of the parties, least of all, Mnangagwa, who is at the centre of the controversy.
Mnangagwa has, on his part, said he was ready to dialogue with any political leader in the country and would not hire a bulldozer to drag Chamisa to the negotiating table against his will.
While the President has initiated a dialogue process with political leaders who command a tiny following in the country, the participation of the MDC is seen as the one that is capable of changing the face of national politics in the positive.