Mnangagwa, Chamisa feel the heat

 Mnangagwa, Chamisa feel the heat
Published: 11 June 2019
CHURCHES are intensifying their push for dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, in a bid to de-escalate political tensions in the country and to get the two men to work together to fix Zimbabwe's dying economy, the Daily News reported.

This comes as Zimbabwe is experiencing its worst economic crisis in a decade - which has raised growing fears of imminent civil unrest by long-suffering citizens, as well as a return to the horrific economic rot of 2008.

Among the myriad challenges ravaging the country, Zimbabwe is experiencing biting shortages of foreign currency, power and fuel - amid shocking price hikes of basic consumer goods.

So concerned are various church groups in the country, that they held private talks with Mnangagwa last week, with well-placed sources telling the Daily News that the main item on their agenda was to nudge the president to engage in urgent dialogue with Chamisa.

At the same time, female clerics from 28 church groupings met in Mabvuku on Friday where they held a prayer meeting before releasing a statement in which they also implored Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold urgent talks to avert violence and a bigger crisis in the country.

"We are calling upon all politicians, mainly MDC led by ... Chamisa and Zanu-PF led by ... Mnangagwa - a man who is always quoting scriptures and believes in the power of God - to find each other.

"May the suffering of people not be exploited for political power, and instead let the welfare of Zimbabweans bring Mnangagwa and Chamisa together," the clerics, who gathered under the auspices of Zimbabwe Women Interceding for Peace and Development Network Trust, said.

"If ever there is going to be dialogue … it must be people-driven without external influence.

"We need re-engagement with the international community and Zimbabwe must join the family of nations and participate in social and economic development programmes that can benefit our people," they added.

The push for dialogue comes as the prices of basic consumer goods in the country have now gone completely haywire, as the local economy continues to burn and the RTGS dollar plummets against the US dollar.

This has seen ever more long-suffering Zimbabweans finding themselves on the margins of the economy, as the yawning gap between wages on one hand, and the prices of basic goods, as well as the cost of living on the other continues to widen by the day.
A survey by the Daily News last week showed that the prices of many basic goods had gone up by between 50 percent and 150 percent over the past few days alone, thus putting under more pressure cash-strapped consumers.

The worsening economic situation has led to rising tensions in the country, with labour unions and opposition parties warning of looming mass demonstrations across the country.

However, the clerics warned on Friday that any such mass protests and violence would sink the country deeper into problems, as evidenced by the January riots which claimed 20 lives and left hundreds others nursing serious injuries.
"All politicians must sacrifice their selfish desires for power in the interest of people. We need development not demonstrations.

"No one should take advantage of economic hardships to … get into power through bloodshed or violence," they said.
Meanwhile, and speaking to the Daily News at the end of their prayer meeting, the clerics' chairperson, Regina Katsande, said the worsening economic rot in the country was most concerning for the church.

"As women we are taking the lead in calling for dialogue … to allow peace to prevail in the country because of the experience we had in January which is traumatising to us.

"There is tension in the country right now, with prices going up every time. We don't want a repeat of what happened in January. We call upon the leadership to take a proactive role so that their differences are resolved peacefully," she said.

Zimbabwe was in January thrown into a huge crisis when angry protesters flooded the streets of Harare, Bulawayo and several other towns across the country, demonstrating against sharp fuel price hikes.

Property worth millions of dollars was also destroyed and looted in the mayhem which ensued, after tens of thousands of workers heeded the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions' three-day strike call.

At the same time, security forces unleashed a brutal crackdown against protesters, the opposition and civil society leaders - in a move which received wide condemnation in the country and around the world.

Mnangagwa, who was feted like a king when he swept to power on the back of a popular military coup which ousted long-serving president Robert Mugabe in 2017, is facing arguably the biggest challenge of his political career as he is struggling to mend the country's broken economy.

So bad is Zimbabwe's current economic crisis - which has heightened calls for political dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa - that official inflation has now hit 75,86 percent, the highest recorded in the southern African nation since it abandoned the worthless Zimbabwe dollar in 2009.

Mnangagwa and Chamisa have also previously and separately said they were both willing to engage in dialogue that could extricate the country from the worsening economic rot.
However, and despite these encouraging statements, no formal and direct talks have taken place between them.

Instead, Mnangagwa has gone on to hold talks with leaders of fringe parties who contested him in last year's presidential election.

Recently, Mnangagwa launched the political actors dialogue (Polad), which political analysts have said is meaningless as it does not involve Chamisa - who narrowly lost to the Zanu-PF leader in last July's hotly-contested polls.

Chamisa has been brawling with Mnangagwa ever since he lost those elections - whose result he vigorously challenged at the Constitutional Court (Con-Court).

He even went to the extent of accusing the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of manipulating the presidential poll results in favour of the Zanu-PF leader.

But Mnangagwa's victory was upheld by the Con-Court, which ruled that Chamisa had failed to provide evidence that he had won the election.

- dailynews
Tags: Mnangagwa, Chamisa,


Latest News

Latest Published Reports

Latest jobs