Zimbabwe

Emmerson Mnangagwa won't bow to 'irritating noise' on unity government

16 December 2018 - 00:00 By RAY NDLOVU and JAMES THOMPSON


For the second time in a week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa has shot down suggestions that Zanu-PF may be on the verge of sharing power with the opposition Movement for Democratic Change.
Mnangagwa told about 6,000 delegates at the 17th Zanu-PF People's Conference that the party should ignore calls for a unity government.
"I urge members of the party not to be deterred by those who continue to make irritating noises. As Zanu-PF, we have no agenda for a government of national unity," Mnangagwa said on Friday.
Earlier in the week, he told Zanu-PF politburo members the party's two-thirds parliamentary majority and his July 30 victory in the presidential poll meant there was no need for a unity government.
A go-between who has spent weeks in back-and-forth talks with Mnangagwa and MDC leader Nelson Chamisa told the Sunday Times it was unlikely the opposition would either share power with Zanu-PF or participate in a national transitional authority - the caretaker administration the MDC proposed to break the political logjam.
"What they [Zanu-PF] are prepared to do is provide an official title to [Chamisa] of leader of the opposition. Other than that there is nothing else. That's it," said the source. "In the long term, the risk now is that MDC supporters may become disillusioned by the continued digging in by their leaders."
It was the MDC's mainly urban voters who were feeling the impact of austerity measures implemented to address the economic crisis, said the source. "For Zanu-PF's rural-based supporters, it's business as usual."
Western embassies in Harare have pushed for dialogue between Mnangagwa and Chamisa. Talks would win international approval and provide relief to businesses and foreign investors rattled by the politicians' sabre-toothed rhetoric.
At the centre of the logjam is the opposition's refusal to recognise Mnangagwa as president. The MDC insists Chamisa was the rightful winner in the July 30 poll.
Last month, a scuffle broke out in parliament when opposition legislators refused to stand and acknowledge Mnangagwa when finance minister Mthuli Ncube delivered his budget. Mnangagwa made it clear that MDC MPs would be ejected from parliament for as long as they refused to acknowledge his presidency.
The president's reluctance to enter talks with the MDC has also been fuelled by the endorsement he received in the past few weeks from various quarters in Zanu-PF to stand for a second term in 2023. The war veterans, youth and women's wings and provincial structures endorsed him
At the conference, held at Mzingwane High School in Esigodini, delegates chanted the slogan they will use in the next election campaign: "2023: ED Pfee."
The strongest endorsement came from Vice-President Constantino Chiwenga, who said: "I want it heard now and far from now - until 2023, when the next elections fall due, you are our one and only presidential candidate. As Zanu-PF, we believe in Mnangagwa's capabilities to propel the country to an upper-middle-income economy."
Mnangagwa spoke extensively at the conference about his economic reforms and signalled his intention to reintroduce a local currency. For nine years, Zimbabwe has not had a currency of its own.
• A report by a commission on Zimbabwe's post-election violence, which left six people dead and dozens injured, would be published next week, Mnangagwa said.
The seven-member commission, chaired by former South African president Kgalema Motlanthe, heard from nearly 200 witnesses, including security officials, former cabinet ministers, MDC leaders, civic society leaders, members of the public and families of the victims.

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