Will there be meaningful political dialogue to Jumpstart the economy?

By Almot Maqolo

Two years after the general elections and it looks like the much anticipated dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition leader Nelson Chamisa will not happen. This failure to talk might jeopardize their respective political careers while worsening the country’s economic woes. There are fears that the economy will suffer the same fate as it did in 2008, a total collapse.

As it stands, both parties don’t seem to be interested in dialogue as evidenced by the constantly changing conditions and counter conditions. The conditions set by suggest that the two parties are still far apart and something needs to be done to narrow this divide.

Next, the parties, in particular Chamisa’s MDC Alliance, is wary of the possibility of losing supporters if chooses to opt for a negotiated settlement. Chamisa must convince his partners and followers why the dialogue is essential to his political future and that of the MDC Alliance. Failing this will only embolden his rivals and increase the chances of further breakaways, rifts and factions.

In the meantime, Chamisa’s old nemesis, ZANU PF will stop at nothing as it tries kill its enemy. In general, a possible Chamisa and Mnangagwa dialogue is viewed as a positive move step that can bring back the economy from the brink.

If this dialogue finally happens, Mnangagwa and his allies will be careful not to give Chamisa the momentum as result of the talks. However, if Chamisa’s outwit Zanu Pf negotiators there is a real possibility that sweep the next election. ZANU PF stalwarts will allow that to happen as this will leave ED exposed.

Indeed, the economy would be the biggest winner of any settlement that is reached if indeed these talks go ahead. Another million dollar question is whether Chamisa will allow Mnangagwa to chair the phantom political hamlet.

ZANU PF will also seek to persuade or rather push Chamisa into admitting that sanctions are illegal and they must be lifted unconditionally. This is an area where Chamisa will have problems with his allies. The issues centered on their dialogue are political. It mainly involves the July 2018 ‘disputed’ election results and the failure to rein in on increasing cases of abuse of human rights.

It should be noted that some of the economic challenges bedeviling the economy can be addressed without the involvement of the opposition. The country needs policy consistency, reduction of corruption and the removal of bad economic policies.

Adding intrigue to the need for dialogue are continuing reports of another coup d’état. A dialogue process can effectively douse the appetite for another military takeover. Political problems need political solutions and they cannot be solved with that same mindset which created them in the first place. Dialogue with Chamisa, can potentially offer a temporary lifeline for the economy just as the other settlement, the Global Political Agreement, did for the country between 2009 and 2013.

The suspicion that ZANU PF is sponsoring Douglas Mwonzora in his battle to gain control of the party premise highlights Mnangagwa’s lack of seriousness on this issue. As such, the MDC Alliance need to be vigilant and negotiate with their cards very close to the chest.

Faced with a collapsing economy, the regime wants to use Chamisa’s goodwill to help turn around the economy and to boost confidence just like they did to former prime minister, the late Morgan Tsvangirai.

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