Former South Africa President Mbeki’s visit raises hopes for political dialogue in Zimbabwe

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by Tichaona Chifamba

HARARE, Dec. 17 (Xinhua) — Former South African President Thabo Mbeki’s visit to Zimbabwe has been hailed as a step in the right direction towards a resolution of the political and economic problems bedeviling the country.

During his visit on Monday, Mbeki, who brokered the accord that led to the establishment of an inclusive government in 2009 following disputed elections pitting former President Robert Mugabe and MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai the previous year, met Mnangagwa for two hours before he met Chamisa for about three hours.

The inclusive government lasted four years with Mugabe remaining President while Tsvangirai became Prime Minister.

He was also due to meet MDC-T leader Thokozani Khupe and other opposition officials Lovemore Madhuku, Priscilla Misihairabwi and Lucia Matibenga, according to government spokesperson Nick Mangwana.

Mbeki comes in as many Zimbabweans call for the two political adversaries to discuss issues that have led to lack of international and local political and economic goodwill on the country.

Academic Nhamo Mhiripiri told Xinhua in an interview on Tuesday that Mbeki’s visit was very important, given the significant relations between Zimbabwe and South Africa going back to the pre-independence days.

“Whenever we’re at our most intense moment of problems you see the South Africans coming in. When things reach this extent (political and economic crisis) it means there’s need for mediation,” Mhiripiri said.

He urged Chamisa to be more engaging and admit that Mnangagwa’s legitimacy as President had been decided by the courts, so he could no longer use any other constitutional means to dislodge the incumbent president.

“That one is gone, unless he has another constitutional provision that he may want to use. On other pertinent issues, dialogue should be held with the critical opposition, the one people voted for. Let us not pretend that POLAD is the opposition,” the Midlands State University lecturer said.

POLAD, acronym for Political Actors Dialogue, was launched by Mnangagwa early 2019 bringing together all presidential candidates in the 2018 harmonized elections.

Speaking to journalists after meeting Mnangagwa, Mbeki echoed Mhiripiri’s statement on legitimacy saying that the matter had already been resolved by the courts of law.

“Well, normally, I would say we must all of us respect the view of the people. If people have queries, they must go to the courts because all the countries in the region have that provision that people can go and lodge their complaints about elections to the judiciary. And once the courts have made a ruling then we have got to accept that,” he said.

Chamisa on Tuesday said that he wanted dialogue that was “meaningful, where the political will to change for the benefit of Zimbabweans outweighs political expediency”.

“Dialogue must deliver true change and real reforms. When we shake kinds let us be agreeing to truly walk in the same direction, a new direction,” he said on Twitter.

He said the current political impasse should not continue and that real issues affecting all must be at the core of any dialogue.

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