Mnangagwa calls meeting of all Zimbabwean presidential candidates

06 February 2019 - 06:44 By RAY NDLOVU
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. File photo.
Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa. File photo.
Image: REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Zimbabwe's President Emmerson Mnangagwa is expected to convene a meeting on Wednesday with all presidential candidates who participated in elections held last year.

It will be the first time that all 23 presidential contestants who took part in the July 30 elections meet. The outcome of the disputed polls spilled into the Constitutional Court.

Misheck Sibanda, the chief secretary to the president and cabinet, said the meeting would “establish a framework for dialogue and interaction.”

“Each presidential candidate is expected to bring three delegates and for those candidates with parliamentary representation, one extra delegate can be from Parliament,” Sibanda wrote.

In recent months, there have been widespread calls for dialogue among various political and civic society leaders.

Nelson Chamisa, the leader of the largest opposition party in the country, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), last week said he had written five letters to Mnangagwa to appeal for dialogue.

Chamisa told a media briefing that the 76-year-old Mnangagwa had not responded to any of his letters. Mnangagwa told journalists that he had not seen any letter from his main opponent, Chamisa.

MDC spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda told TimesLIVE that “there is a meeting by the party leadership [on Wednesday] to discuss issues” and the MDC leadership may look into the meeting called by Mnangagwa.

However, Sibanda would neither confirm nor deny if the party had received the letter from Mnangagwa.

The MDC-T, a splinter party led by Thokozani Khuphe, who also participated in last year’s polls, said it would attend the meeting set to take place on Wednesday afternoon.

Linda Masarira, the MDC-T’s spokesperson, said their party would be represented at the highest level by Khuphe.

“The MDC-T will attend the meeting. From this meeting, we expect a lasting resolution to the crisis facing Zimbabwe. Elections are over and we need to find ourselves and unite so as to move the country forward,” said Masarira.

An ongoing liquidity crunch and a recent fuel price hike by 150% have added to an economic meltdown. This week the price of bread was increased by 70%. Breadmakers cited the lack of foreign currency to buy raw materials.

Teachers unions on Tuesday called for an indefinite strike, demanding $1 733, against the current pay of $500 — eroded by rising inflation officially recorded at 42%.

The economic crisis is not the only heat being brought to bear lately on Mnangagwa’s administration.

The UK’s Africa minister, Harriet Baldwin, on Tuesday told an International Development Committee meeting that the country would no longer support Zimbabwe’s plan to clear its external debts and application to rejoin the Commonwealth.

The about-turn by the UK marks a sharp shift, leaving Mnangagwa’s administration increasingly isolated.

Baldwin said the UK did not condone the “disproportionate use of force” by the military, which has been at the centre of crackdowns against the opposition since a three-day stay-away was called last month.

Rights groups estimate that 12 people were killed, 78 injured from gunshot wounds and nearly 1,000 suffered various human rights violations.

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