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President Mnangagwa and other political leaders in Zimbabwe holding hands in Harare on Friday.

South Africa has urged Zimbabwe to look for a mediator to facilitate meaningful dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and opposition parties as Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Nelson Chamisa on Friday snubbed a launch of the Political Actors’ Forum in the country’s capital, Harare.

South Africa’s ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mphakama Mbete, made the call when he addressed delegates attending the meeting, who included Mnangagwa, MDC-T president Thokozani Khupe and scores of other opposition party leaders and civic society representatives.

Mbete said, “… For credibility the leadership of Zimbabwe wishes to consider a facilitator outside Zimbabwe. We as a region we will be ready to propose names from the African continent. At this point we would like to appeal to the political formations, to the political leaders who are now yet part of the political dialogue to join the national dialogue.”

Zimbabwe is currently facing an economic crisis stemming from lack of foreign direct investment, capital constraints in reviving collapsing industries, an unpredictable financial system, high investment risk factors and other issues.

Mbete’s call was embraced by the MDC led by Nelson Chamisa, who has criticized Mnangagwa’s political dialogue with small opposition parties, which he thinks are seeking relevance in Zimbabwe following their dismal performance in the 2018 general elections.

MDC spokesperson Jacob Mafume praised Mbete, saying the Zimbabwean president should engage in direct talks with Chamisa facilitated by an eminent person from outside Zimbabwe in order to tackle the current economic crisis.

“In any dialogue there are some people who are supposed to mediate. Engaging these small parties is a waste of time, it won’t take us anyway as it won’t resolve the current economic crisis in Zimbabwe. We are surprised that Mnangagwa wants to pursue this kind of dialogue to the extent that people will start eating baboons while wallowing in poverty.

"The economic situation is bad in Zimbabwe and continues to deteriorate. Chamisa says he is prepared to engage in any meaningful dialogue mediated by a person from outside Zimbabwe so that he will talk with Mnangagwa about moving the country forward so that there are jobs and people can live a normal life.”

Mnangagwa, who officially launched the Political Actors Dialogue Forum aimed at creating harmony among all stakeholders in the country, could not immediately react to Mbete’s call for an external mediator.

He told people attending the meeting that unity was key in developing Zimbabwe. “Let us all come to the big tent of unity … Let us all come to this tent to spread love, peace and harmony as we develop our country …”
Speaking at the same meeting, Khupe urged Chamisa to embrace the Forum, saying that would help in the transformation of Zimbabwe, which is currently ranked by some international organizations as one of the poorest nations in the world.

The MDC still maintains that Chamisa beat Mnangagwa in the last presidential election though the Constitutional Court ruled that the president won the poll

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