ON 15 September, just before he left the country for the United Nations General Assembly in New York, President Mnangagwa penned a congratulatory message to the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change Alliance, lauding the party for offering a viable alternative to the ruling Zanu-PF as it commemorated its 20th anniversary.
Writing on his official Twitter page, President Mnangagwa said: “Congratulations to @mdczimbabwe on your 20th anniversary this week. Though we have our differences, this is what democracy is all about. I look forward to many more years of debate and dialogue. Makorokoto! Amhlophe! Wishing all the people of Zimbabwe a blessed Sunday”.
The MDC-A celebrations were held at Rufaro Stadium in Harare on Saturday without incident with the police and other law enforcement agents providing security to ensure smooth proceedings throughout the day.
On Tuesday, President Mnangagwa presided over the official opening of the Second Session of the Ninth Parliament of Zimbabwe where he also delivered his second State of the Nation Address since winning last year’s elections. As he was about to present his SONA, MDC-A legislators walked out of the National Assembly chamber after earlier refusing to stand when the President walked into the chamber as required by Parliament’s decorum.
The opposition MPs performed the same stunt during last year’s SONA as they protested against what they termed President Mnangagwa’s legitimacy in the wake of the July 2018 harmonised elections which were overwhelmingly won by Zanu-PF and its presidential candidate.
While the generality of Zimbabweans have moved on with their lives and are seized with working towards getting the country on a sound economic footing, the MDC-A appears stuck in a time warp and cannot get over the fact that the Constitutional Court — the highest court in the land — unequivocally pronounced itself on the outcome of the presidential election and that its findings are final.
The opposition party is in perpetual electoral mode but surely, can Zimbabwe progress with its citizens continuously on tenterhooks in anticipation of another plebiscite. Can it move forward with an opposition that seems hell bent on burning the house down just because it cannot have it’s way? We find their grandstanding and posturing utterly abhorrent and despicable considering the suffering of ordinary Zimbabweans who are weighed down by economic sanctions.
To illustrate the futility of the MDC’s sanctions lobby, this week the United States Government issued a so called Withhold Release Order preventing Zimbabwean parcels from entering the American market. This resulted in rough diamonds from Zimbabwe being barred from the US on the pretext that they were extracted using forced labour at Marange.
Interestingly, there is another ongoing process of undermining Zimbabwe’s enjoyment of its natural resources with the US set to promulgate an anti-trophy hunting law called “Cecil Act” purportedly inspired by the killing of Cecil the Lion at Hwange National Park by an American millionaire dentist, Walter Palmer, in 2015.
On rough diamonds, the US Embassy in Harare on Wednesday admitted that it had no primary evidence of the practice, but relied on reports from third parties.
These include NGOs with links to the MDC. Of late, the US has been upping the ante in its fight with the Zimbabwean Government and appears intent on reversing the giant strides the new dispensation has made in its re-engagement thrust. While the rest of the Western world is willing to give Zimbabwe a chance and embrace its reform agenda, Washington has adopted a hardline stance which is unhelpful. It has been leaning on the MDC-A to forge ahead with violent protests in the vain hope of unseating a constitutionally elected Government.
That is not behaviour consistent with the so called biggest democracy in the world. Uncle Sam can play a more meaningful role in Zimbabwe by working with both the Government and main opposition party to improve the lives of the people. The first step is to remove sanctions that are stalling efforts to revive the economy. By engaging in skullduggery and underhand methods such as intercepting diamond parcels lawfully mined in Zimbabwe and meant to benefit its citizens, the US is showing its hand as a latter day bully out to force smaller nations to kowtow to its whims and caprices.
No doubt its influence on the MDC-A is clear but the opposition party should be wary of the true intentions of Americans who hob nob with them by day but scuttle efforts to improve the economy by night. The resolution of Zimbabwe’s internal problems will always be an issue for Zimbabweans and this is why President Mnangagwa convened the Political Actors Dialogue as a platform where the country’s political leaders can meet and break bread.
MDC-A leader Mr Nelson Chamisa is free to join other opposition party presidents on that platform and we are sure he would be welcomed with open arms were he to honour the invitation. In the same spirit that President Mnangagwa congratulated the MDC-A on its anniversary, the party should reciprocate the gesture by accepting that he is the legitimately elected leader of Zimbabwe.