Zanu-PF says opposition Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) leader Nelson Chamisa must humble himself and congratulate President Emmerson Mnangagwa on his re-election in the August disputed elections before the two can engage in talks to end the current stalemate.
Chamisa has refused to accept election defeat citing vote fraud in the polls that were discredited by observer missions, including the one from the Southern African Development Community (Sadc) as not credible. Observer missions cited a number of electoral irregularities including the intimidation of opposition voters by the shadowy Zanu-PF affiliate, Forever Associates of Zimbabwe (Faz).
In their reports, the observer missions said the elections fell short of local, regional and international standards on the holding of free and fair elections. Chamisa has hinted at engaging Mnangagwa to solve the political question resulting from the disputed elections and recently sent emissaries to Zanu-PF leader’s office.
Zanu-PF hardliners, have however, shut the door on him.
Addressing a press conference at the party headquarters in Harare on Monday, Zanu-PF spokesperson Christopher Mutsvangwa said the ruling party was open to talks but only after Chamisa acknowledged Mnangagwa’s victory.
“The starting point is that can Chamisa send a word to the President saying ‘congratulations you won the 2023 August elections,” Mutsvangwa said.
“Those magic words would reopen a lot of vistas. The opposition Members of Parliament [MPs] have already done it and that is why they are in Mt Hampden (Parliament). If his MPs can accept he should also accept.”
CCC spokesperson Promise Mkwananzi, however, said the party was not interested in endorsing Mnangagwa’s disputed victory.
“How can president Chamisa send a congratulatory message over a disputed election?,” Mkwananzi asked NewsDay in an interview yesterday.
“All election observer missions including Sadc and even the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission condemned the electoral process.
“The dialogue we seek is not about endorsing Mr Mnangagwa, they are about political reforms and a shared vision and destiny for Zimbabwe.”
Political analyst Vivid Gwede said Zanu-PF was trying to set difficult conditions for dialogue
“CCC is calling for dialogue because, among other things, it believes the election was flawed. A congratulatory message will thus contradict this basis for dialogue,” Gwede said.
“For dialogue to happen, these obstacles need to be cleared. If there is political will, parties should dialogue without difficult preconditions so that all contentious issues can be on the table.”
Mutsvangwa said Zanu-PF was genuine in having a conversation with a “structured” CCC.
“If they want they can invite us because we are ardent party builders by nature. Maybe they can come and we learn from each other,” he said.
“There is total confusion there and we don’t cherish it because we would rather prefer organised and structured opposition for the progress of the party.
“This is a genuine sentiment from Zanu-PF and our President.”
Mutsvangwa was referring to the infighting in the CCC following the recall of the party’s MPs and councillors by self-imposed interim secretary-general, Sengezo Tshabangu.
Zimbabwe will hold by-elections on Saturday to fill vacant posts triggered by the recalls.
Tshabangu has been dismissed as a Zanu-PF proxy, but the ruling party has disowned him.
“We have absolutely nothing to gain as a party and everything to lose by the fights which are in the CCC,” Mutsvangwa said.
“So do not try to say that we have an attitude of trying to disorganise the opposition for our own gain. These are home-grown problems which are being thrust upon Zanu-PF.”
Mutsvangwa also said Zanu-PF was not interested in changing the national Constitution to give Mnangagwa a third term.
“We have no intention of changing the Constitution; we have no intentions about a third term for this or that,” he said.
Section 91 of the Zimbabwean Constitution states that the President must serve a maximum of two terms.
Mnangagwa is currently serving his second term and will not be eligible to contest in the 2028 general election unless the Constitution is amended.
Mnangagwa and his ruling party have, however, been accused of engineering the recalls to push for a two thirds majority in Parliament to make it easy to amend the Constitution.