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Coordinator’s Note: Dialogue the answer to the Zim crisis?

In recent weeks Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) and the courts issued orders to ban the opposition party MDC led by Nelson Chamisa’s planned protests countrywide. The orders, issued in every major town which the opposition had applied to engage in peaceful protests.

However, in Harare armed police ruthlessly clamped down on protesters who had gathered in the city centre for the Free Zimbabwe peace march using teargas, water cannons and baton sticks. The opposition party had called off the march after failing to overturn a police ban of the demonstrations at the High Court in the morning, but hundreds of its supporters were already in the CBD.

Days before the planned protests reports of abduction and torture of activists like Tatenda Mombeyarara and other activists signaled the clampdown on human rights defenders. Last week, a popular comedian Samantha Kureya, popular Gonyeti was abducted by masked armed men from her house and was brutally assaulted before being dumped in a bush in Harare.

These events have made it worse and exposed the Mnangagwa’s regime fake reformist agenda. As some of these events were happening, the SADC Heads of States and Governments were meeting in Dar es Salaam for the summit, and on the sidelines social movements from all the SADC countries where also meeting at the National Museum Hall in Dar es Salaam.

To our surprise, the government of Zimbabwe, through their mouthpiece the Herald newspaper on the 16th of August 2019 made sensational allegations that civil society leaders who were attending the SADC People’s Summit in Tanzania were planning to demonstrate against President Mnangagwa and were being trained to commit acts of banditry. The state went on to publish over 20 names of civil society leaders that they claim were planning to smear the image of the country. The allegations resulted in the detention and harassment of the activists upon their return to Zimbabwe.

The economy on the other hand is facing a perpetual meltdown (resulting from the current political crisis) which has resulted in high levels of inflation and an increase in domestic debt which has compromised the government’s capacity for the provision of social services and social protection for ordinary citizens. Zimbabwe's economy is collapsing under the burden of a) grand corruption and b) the power of a military elite which is subverting constitutional processes.

The recent 76% cost of living adjustment offer to civil servants which will see the least-paid worker taking home $1 023 (less than USD100) per month is inadequate due to the high cost of living.

Equally, a majority of Zimbabweans are surviving on less than USD1 a day is impacting negatively on ordinary citizens and has the potential of fuelling more conflicts in Zimbabwe.

Faced by a political and economic crisis calls for dialogue have been amplified with various initiatives started as a way of finding a solution to the crisis. Mnangagwa’s POLAD initiative was totally rejected by the Chamisa led MDC which is demanding that the dialogue process be convened by a neutral person, as a result the country remains in a stalemate.

However, as the coalition we reiterate our call for internal and inclusive stakeholders’ dialogue in Zimbabwe.

We are convinced that dialogue process must involve all stakeholders and a national visioning process that has a civil society, government, political parties, business, religious groups and labour unions among other critical stakeholders on board. As an import of the dialogue process should produce a clear timed roadmap to the demilitarization of civilian political processes and the restoration of normalcy by focusing on key political, economic and social reforms.

Thus, we bring to you here, the Zimbabwe Briefing edition 4, tackling the hot topic of dialogue. Is dialogue the answer to Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis or we wait for another election? In this edition, Jealousy Mawarire’s well written piece argues that the army is a critical player in the dialogue process hence they should be invited to the table.

Here’s an interesting take from Toendepi Shonhe, “the present fallacious calls for dialogue; yet, beneath the veneer are sculpting power contestations of Zimbabwe’s political elites, thus betraying a chance for a reprieve for the suffering masses.” Enjoy reading!!

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