What is Dialogue if it can not produce a GNU? Myth unpacked

by | Mar 17, 2021 | Opinions | 0 comments

Hosia Mviringi
Zimbabweans have gone through a lot of suffering through the effects of sanctions invited upon the country by opposition figures.

Perhaps more importantly, political contestations have added more misery, despair and gloom to a population that itches for a break after every election period.

The never-ending political posturing and bickering by mostly losing parties have kept citizens in perpetual election mode, which is never a healthy state by any standards.
Losing candidates are invariably trying to get political accommodation through the back door by bringing into prominence the so-called need for dialogue.

As a result, frantic solutions have been put forward by incendiaries, which include among other aspects exclusive dialogue with selected political players and a probable GNU between ZANU PF and the MDC Alliance.
It is well known that a platform for the exchange of ideas was established by President Emmerson Mnangagwa, where all political players were invited to partake in reflections that could climax in decisions and ideas to influence policy direction in government.

POLAD was established for all political parties and leaders to come together, as would be necessary, to discuss pertinent governance issues.
Only the MDC Alliance and its leader Nelson Chamisa chose to distance themselves from POLAD.

Ironically, three years into a five-year term, Mr Nelson Chamisa, his party MDC Alliance, and lately the ZCTU and its leader Mr Peter Mutasa still believe that a need exists for special dialogue outside POLAD.
But a question that remains is whether dialogue is really necessary if it can’t produce GNU?

Dialogue should not be about personality appeasement, but it should be necessity driven.

There should be a genuine need for it to take place.

In POLAD, an atmosphere of dialogue, frank exchanges, free conversations and contribution of ideas for governance was created and thrives.
Any serious political actor in Zimbabwe would be expected to join in and influence policy direction from within the system.

Ironically, and regrettably so, a certain section of individuals believe that they are more important than the rest, even more, important than Zimbabwe itself!
So what is the drive for the latest push for dialogue by the MDC Alliance and its partners outside POLAD?
I shall try to answer this question a little later.

For now, let us zoom in on the status of main proponent of the latest push for political ‘dialogue’ outside of POLAD.
The opposition leader, Mr Nelson Chamisa, seems to have an overgrown ego.
To some extent, he percolates an unsavoury sense of self-importance.

He has presided over a party that continues to crumble to the point that he is so unsure if he still has supporters remaining out there, and insecurity drives his current actions.
Positively, if it was not an act of desperation, what else would one still aim to achieve through dialogue, with less than two years to the next elections?
If he was truly convinced of his invincibility at elections why wouldn’t he wait a little longer to prove himself at the next poll?
It is his arrogance that has become his major Achilles tendon.

One does not need political dialogue to negotiate political reforms, as they were, when they have representatives in Parliament.
Conversations should not be about resurrecting withering political careers.

No one should be stampeded into selfish yet unnecessary career-saving talks disguised as dialogue.
The truth is that Zimbabweans have moved on and they see no need for that useless time consuming exercise.

A political rescue plan disguised as dialogue may not live to see the light of day.
What matters today are viable concepts to take the country forward, not ego massaging talk shows.

But, maybe just to entertain Mr Chamisa’s wonderland quest for dialogue, the question that must be adequately addressed is whether or not a GNU is possible under the present circumstances?
Do we have the legal justification for a GNU?

Firstly a GNU is not legally possible under the current circumstances because we have a duly elected President in Office, and a Parliament with a single Party presiding over a 2/3 majority.
Under such circumstances, the Constitution does not provide for a GNU.
It will take a very cumbersome process of amending the Constitution, then establishing a Global Political Agreement pact, which may culminate in serious negotiations between political parties. But to what benefit will this be to the nation?

Assuming that such a process is followed, it risks becoming a slippery slope because it can be successfully challenged in Court as no legal elements exist presently for such an arrangement.
And by the way, under the Zimbabwean law, a GNU is only possible when an election fails to produce an outright winner, or what may be termed a hung Parliament, where no political party commands a two thirds parliamentary majority. Such a Parliament can not pass laws, which makes it dysfunctional.

But in this case, where a fully functional Parliament is in the middle of its life, it becomes merely posturing to assume that a constitutional amendment necessary for a GNU can be achieved.
Secondly, a GNU is only possible between Parties that have a semblance of confluence both ideologically and politically. But in this case, the major political parties are ideologically water and oil. They run parallel to each other. It is practically impossible to convince ZANU PF lawmakers to vote for an emendation clause that will force them to work with a party they fundamentally contradict.
Clear as crystals, Mr Chamisa’s case for exclusive dialogue is dead in the water.

Let’s not be fooled by the 2008 Mugabe -Tsvangirai pact which was, by and large, a cosmetic marriage.
It was purely because former President Mugabe had no ethical or valid ground to refuse such a marriage. After all, then, no parliamentary majority existed. It was a marriage of convenience.

Whether or not that GNU was a success is a subject for another day.

The clear conclusion in my opinion is that a GNU will remain just but a pipe dream until the next elections in 2023.
For now, we watch as the MDC Alliance quietly moves into a decayed state.