By Kingston Ndabatei
MDC leader Nelson Chamisa should stop “grandstanding and playing games with the people”, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has said.
In a veiled attack on the opposition leader Thursday, Mnangagwa said without mentioning his rival’s name that his 41-year-old challenger lacked political maturity.
Chamisa snubbed Mnangagwa’s invitation to a meeting of all the 2018 election presidential candidates early this month.
The meeting was called to defuse tensions among the country’s ever feuding politicians ahead of the much envisaged national dialogue process.
In his briefing to diplomats accredited to Harare at State House Thursday, Mnangagwa said there was no going back on talks and went on to scold his rival for being “childish”.
“All the presidential candidates who have the political maturity and a sense of leadership joined us,” he said.
“I call on those who refuse to take part in the national dialogue to stop grandstanding and playing games with the lives of the people of our beloved Zimbabwe.
“Let us join together and work for a prosperous and a united, peaceful Zimbabwe.
“Continuous dialogue within our nation is an exercise I am determined as President to see through. What unites us as Zimbabwe is more than what could ever divide us.”
Chamisa insists he won last year’s presidential poll and, in the remote possibility of Mnangagwa simply handing over power to him as per his demands, he wants a transitional authority to run the affairs of the troubled country.
The opposition leader has also demanded the release of all those arrested for both planning and engaging in violent protests that rocked parts of the country last month leaving a trail of destruction.
Mnangagwa, whose government is under fire for the brutal crackdown which led to the killing of 17 civilians – according to independent estimates – has said the violence was pre-meditated, funded and oiled by a “foreign hands with help from local surrogates.”
In his address Thursday, the Zanu PF leader defended the military action but said his government was still going to investigate claims of rape and other abuses linked to rogue elements within the country’s security forces.
“Violence has no place in our midst,” he said.
“My administration esteems peace and democracy.
“We believe human life is sacrosanct. Violence is a betrayal of the new Zimbabwe. It is time to make things right.”
Mnangagwa added, “The army and the police are here to serve and protect the people of Zimbabwe…to uphold and enforce the laws of the country.
“Any evidence of rogue police officers and soldiers taking the law into their own hands will be dealt with and they will face the full wrath of the law.”
He said his government will push ahead with its reform agenda.
“We are proud of the strides we have taken to fully entrench democratic values and constitutionalism in the country.
“We will, going forward, strengthen electoral processes using lessons learnt from our experiences,” he said.