Zimbabwe’s main opposition Movement For Democratic Change (MDC) has expressed concern about what it describes as the increasing level of violence against its supporters, and other opponents of president Robert Mugabe’s ruling ZANU-PF party. The MDC had reportedly send an emissary to South African president Thabo Mbeki asking him to pressure the Harare government to end the violence otherwise the MDC would withdraw from the Southern African Development Community-sponsored peace talks with the ruling party. The MDC contends that the situation on the ground is not inspiring confidence in the ongoing peace talks in South Africa.
Nelson Chamisa is the spokesman of the MDC. From the capital, Harare he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the MDC is disappointed in the ruling party’s lack of commitment to end the violence in the country.
“On the ground, we are worried as the MDC in terms of the sincerity and commitment of ZANU-PF to the negotiations that are taking place in South Africa, particularly, in the context of continued assault, cases of political violence, cases of political intimidation, arrests and torture in the various areas, the rural areas particularly. And those issues are cause for concern for us, and we are also not seeing any movement in terms of the loosening of the screws on political repressions,” Chamisa noted.
He said political freedom has been dramatically stifled under the Mugabe government, despite the ongoing peace talks to resolve the political impasse.
“Political meetings are still being denied, we just had to battle and to get things to the courts over the weekend. On the meeting, we want to have in Massingo, our anniversary, which has been postponed to next week on Saturday. We are still having problems with access to the press, particularly newspapers that are also owned by the government. These remain nagging questions that we would obviously want some significant movement on the part of the ZANNU-PF,” he explained.
Chamisa said confidentiality clauses in the document the party signed does not allow him to expatiate on issues surrounding the ongoing peace talks in South Africa, between the MDC and the ruling ZANU-PF party.
“It’s very difficult for me to try and unpack an outline to you the progress so far because there is a particular request not to delve much into the details or nitty-gritty of the ongoing dialogue, until as and when the concerned parties feel that it is now right about the various arrangements and agreements,” Chamisa pointed out.
He said although the MDC feels frustrated with the commitment of the ongoing peace negotiations, it is committed to finding a solution to the political crisis in the country.
“I would say that we are in this process 100%. And our faith is 100%, and this is why we would continue within the context of the negotiation to say that there has to be movement on the ground. In terms of the issues to do with political repression, it does not make sense for us to be in talks in South Africa when the nation is in a state of acrimony, polarization and disharmony because of political differences… so the situation has to reflect on the ground that indeed there is some movement,” he said.
Chamisa said although the MDC is not in favor of giving President Mugabe the right to choose a successor, it has to assent to that bill in order to gain political leverage in future deliberations with the ruling party.
“We are also quite uncomfortable with the 18th Amendment. But we must know that we are in a negotiation process; it’s a give and take situation, and it’s a quid pro quo kind of arrangement. In any negotiation, you are not negotiating with your friend; you are negotiating with your opponent, and you are negotiating with your adversary. And as such, there are certain points that you have to concede and certain points also that you have to also gain. So as far as we are concerned, what we have done through the 18th Amendment by bending ourselves backwards is just a face to take a preliminary step, which we believe is going to unlock future processes, and a series of other developments that are going to inspire confidence among Zimbabweans,” Chamisa noted.