PRESIDENT Emmerson Mnangagwa says he is keen to end Zimbabwe’s worsening political and economic crises through dialogue but has been kept waiting by opposition leader Nelson Chamisa, a visiting cleric said yesterday.
This comes as dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa has stalled over the insistence by the Zanu-PF leader that the youthful MDC president should join him at the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) – a platform where he regularly meets with leaders of fringe parties who contested in the 2018 polls.
Addressing the media, following his meeting with Mnangagwa in the capital yesterday — Lutheran World Federation (LWF) secretary-general Martin Junge — said the president had told him he was keen to end the crises in the country.
“Through the leadership of Lutheran (Church) in Zimbabwe, I was able to pay a courtesy call on the President … I was glad to share what I have been able to see about the situation in the country and to engage in dialogue with him about it.
“It was a good discussion which we had and I felt an acknowledgement of the country’s situation that has been caused by different issues and how to possibly address those.
“He (Mnangagwa) referred to the efforts of the government of creating a platform for dialogue and expressed that he was keen to engage in dialogue to solve the country’s problems,” Junge said.
“I know from other parts of the world that when we have to remind ourselves of the need for dialogue and peace, it is because there is tension, frustration and fragmentation.
“So I was grateful to see the church in Zimbabwe also calling for dialogue because we know all over the world that the harder the issue is, the more you need to talk,” he said further.
Mnangagwa and Chamisa are under pressure to hold talks which are seen as the only way of extricating the country from its gigantic economic crisis.
Apart from the pain of the economic crisis — Zimbabwe is also reeling from a severe drought that has left more than half of the country’s population needing urgent food assistance, including in urban areas.
Former South African President Thabo Mbeki — who helped to broker the stability-inducing 2008 government of national unity between former opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai and ex-president Robert Mugabe, who are both late — was in the country in December last year, to try and nudge Mnangagwa and Chamisa to hold direct talks.
Meanwhile, Junge said the LWF was willing to help the government to feed millions of people who are facing hunger across the country.
“Our visit here has helped us to understand the drought situation … identify how we could work closer together with the church and contribute.
“We cannot solve the problems because they are quite big and the primary responsibility for the people of Zimbabwe is with the structures and government.
“We are, however, willing to assist and we have identified ways and will be discussing how to increase our humanitarian assistance to the country,” Junge said.
The government is battling massive shortages of grain, which has hit hard the supplies of the staple maize meal across the country.
Relief agencies have said an estimated eight million Zimbabweans — including those living in urban areas — are in need of urgent food assistance.