HARARE -OPPOSITION MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa yesterday scoffed at suggestions by President Emmerson Mnangagwa that he was unpatriotic to the country and pandering to the whims of his Western handlers.
Chamisa was responding to Mnangagwa’s Independence eve interview broadcast by the State media on Saturday, where the Zanu-PF leader said unless MDC Alliance members cut their ties with the West, it would be difficult for his administration to recognise them as “proper Zimbabweans”.
Mnangagwa said dialogue with the youthful opposition leader was only possible under the Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) — a platform for all parties which contested the 2018 presidential election.
Chamisa has, however, rubbished Polad as “an illegitimate platform for genuine dialogue”.
He also accused Mnangagwa of ignoring citizens’ calls for a genuine and inclusive government.
“Why is he (Mnangagwa) not friends with progressive nations himself,” Chamisa asked rhetorically.
“Who are his friends? He is busy allocating friends to us, so who are his friends? Why is he giving us all the nations in the world? I want to thank him for elevating, honouring and acknowledging our capacity to build bridges and have warm relations with other nations.
“Our focus is to resolve our issues as Zimbabweans through convergence and building a new consensus to give meaning to our independence and sacrifices of our heroes and heroines who perished for a cause so great.
“Let us build bridges in Zimbabwe and my message to ED is, stop burning bridges, stop being destructive, stop dividing the country, stop hate language and hatred. Don’t be vindictive, don’t be a victim of ageism. We are young but not babies.”
Chamisa said despite winning the 2018 elections and being denied the victory after the results were reportedly manipulated in favour of Mnangagwa, his party was still committed to inclusive and genuine dialogue to resolve the Zimbabwean crisis.
“We have always invited him to smoke the peace pipe, but he is carrying a machete and sjamboks and that is the problem. He thinks every problem is a nail that needs a hammer. Violence has no winner and one thing about violence is that no one has monopoly (over it).
“He mistakes us as an opposition. We are not an opposition, but an alternative. That lady (Thokozani Khupe) and that guy (Douglas Mwonzora) he created are his ‘opposition’.
He says there must be a loyal opposition, loyal to who? We are loyal and patriotic to Zimbabwe and its people. Zimbabwe needs leaders, not rulers. Only in a dictatorship would you find alternative ideas treated as unpatriotic,” Chamisa said.
In his pre-recorded interview, Mnangagwa defended Polad, saying it was a platform where “genuinely patriotic Zimbabweans come and participate”.
“We have created a platform where every genuine patriotic Zimbabwean can come and participate and use their talents and contribute to the global national vision. It’s not a Mnangagwa vision, it is not a Zanu-PF vision; it is a national vision for our people. In a democracy, we debate issues and the best debate on the day takes the day.
“That is what we must do and we have created a platform so that nobody is left behind. For instance, it does not follow that everybody should be saying yes, yes, yes to everything I say. I would not want yes people around me, I want people who argue with me and I argue with them.”
He described Chamisa and his deputy Tendai Biti as surrogates of the West, accusing them of inviting sanctions on Zimbabwe and inciting violent demonstrations which caused loss of property and lives.
“Well, you have mentioned this one Zimbabwean (Chamisa); you forget that he and his vice-president (Tendai Biti) went to America to ask for sanctions to continue to be imposed on Zimbabwe. So, before they cut that umbilical cord with the Americans, it is difficult to be proper Zimbabweans.
“We still have countries like the UK and the US who still continue to insist on imposition of sanctions. They have their surrogates in Zimbabwe persuading them to continue to impose sanctions on Zimbabwe and the reasons are best known to them, who want the people of Zimbabwe to suffer, perhaps to ride on the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe for them to come to office,” Mnangagwa said.
The US and the UK have maintained tough economic sanctions on Zanu-PF bigwigs and companies linked to the ruling party over gross human rights violations, violent land seizures and disrespect for property rights.
Addressing delegates at State House yesterday, Mnangagwa said his government would not deviate from the ethos of the country’s liberation struggle.
“As the second republic, we will never betray that which made the many sons and daughters of our motherland to wage the protracted liberation struggle, paying the supreme sacrifice. We will always protect the significance and sacred spirituality of our land.”
Mnangagwa also said the signing of the Global Compensation Agreement on July 29, 2020 with white former commercial farmers was re-affirmation of the irreversibility of the land reform programme as well as a symbol of commitment to constitutionalism, the respect of the rule of law and property rights.