WASHINGTON DC —
Zimbabwe’s ruling Zanu-PF party and the opposition Movement for Democratic Change formations led by former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Professor Welshman Ncube, are refuting allegations raised by a local daily newspaper, that they are secretly meeting to find common ground to help revive the country’s economy.
Quoting unnamed “authoritative sources,” Newsday reported Sunday that the parties “had meetings in Kenya and Ghana, but these are preliminary.”
The substance of the meetings, the paper reported were two-pronged, aimed at discussing how the opposition parties could help the Zanu-PF government revive the economy and derailing any planned coalition between former Vice President Joyce Mujuru’s speculated People’s First party and the Tsvangirai-led MDC.
Zanu-PF spokesperson Simon Khaya Moyo dismissed the reports, responding to repeated questions on this by emphatically denying that any such meeting ever took place.
“We in Zanu-PF and as spokesman of the party, I know nothing about such talks,” said Khaya Moyo.
Speaking for the MDC-T, spokesperson Obert Gutu also dismissed the reports as false.
“Let me take the opportunity to put the record straight,” Gutu clarified. “There is no issue of talks taking place between the MDC led by president Morgan Tsvangirai and Zanu-PF, aimed at forming a so-called GNU 2, as some sections of the media have been reporting of late. “
However, while refuting reports about a meeting to do with a possible reunion with Zanu-PF, Gutu backed the paper’s claims that a meeting did indeed take place, and admitted that “I can actually disclose to the millions of your listeners that a few weeks ago, that there was a meeting in Ghana that was held.”
But, Gutu said, “that meeting was primarily what was called Secretary General’s Forum, where all parties that have got parliamentary representation within the 8th parliament of Zimbabwe, ie., the current parliament of Zimbabwe, were invited. ”
As for the attendants to the meeting, Gutu named all those mentioned in the paper.
“In our case, we were represented by our secretary general Honorable Douglas Mwonzora, and with him he was duly assisted by our Women’s Assembly Chairperson, Honorable Lynette Karenyi-Kore, from Zanu-PF there was Honorable Muchinguri, Oppah Muchinguri-Kashiri and Honorable July Moyo, and I understand from the MDC led by Professor Welshman Ncube, there was Honoroble Moses Mzila Ndlovu, and Honorable Miriam Mushayi.”
Professor Ncube too acknowledged that such a meeting took place, but dismissed that it was to do with forging forces with Zanu-PF. Ncube offered a slightly different account of the meeting from Mwonzora.
“There was a meeting in Ghana, which was not a meeting of the three political parties,” said Ncube. “It was an international meeting of countries which are part of what is called Multi-Party Dialogue Forum for parties in Africa, under the auspices of the Dutch Institute for Multi-Party Democracy.”
Speculation about a second Governmetn of National Unity between Zanu-PF and MDC, or at least talks about bringing the two parties together to regain the social and economic progress achieved in the inclusive government have been circulating in the media, but Ncube dismissed that such a reunion is imminent.
“It has not been proposed by anyone, it has not been discussed and I don’t believe it is ever going to be discussed,” Ncube said, adding that, “as to where that claim originates from, and what its purpose is, I do not know. But it certainly does not arise out of the forum that we are talking about, it did not arise in Ghana.”
Ncube, however, said there were areas he saw opportunity for the ruling and opposition parties to collaborate on, for the benefit of the country as a whole. Speaking specifically for his party, Ncube identified issues to do with the constitution.
He said, “As a party, what we have said is that, maybe the areas in which it might be possible to reach agreement is how do we go about implementing the new constitution, what are the priorities under that new constitution.
“Two, what is it that we can do to work together around expediting the processes which are undoubtedly taking place of harmonizing the laws of the country, to the new constitution?”
Gutu on the other hand said his party was not budging on its demand for reforms that address the issue of free and fair elections.
“Our stance is that we want an electoral environment that, when the next elections are held, will be good enough to give a result that is beyond contestation,” Gutu stressed.
“And listeners should remember that it is against that background that President Morgan Tsvangirai … just under two weeks ago in Harare, he launched what we call the WREN Document, or in full, Without Reforms No Elections document which is a 33-page document, which is basically our campaign for electoral reforms and implementation of the new constitution of Zimbabwe.”
According to Newsday, parties involved in the speculated talks are expected to hold a decisive meeting this week in Victoria Falls.
However, some reports indicate that the talks, real or not, have caused serious fissures in the ruling party, which could derail the intended meeting, that has been reportedly sponsored by an international organization and organized by the Zimbabwe Institute.