JOHANNESBURG – Zimbabwe's main opposition the MDC Alliance, has laid out its conditions for political dialogue with the government after receiving a letter of invitation from President Emmerson Mnangagwa as the two sides attempt to resolve the country’s worsening economic crisis.
“The MDC believes in genuine and sincere dialogue that ultimately must benefit the people of Zimbabwe. We also believe that national dialogue is part of the unfinished liberation struggle agenda,” said MDC leader Nelson Chamisa’s chief of staff, Sessel Zvizvai, in a statement published by Nehanda Radio.
The statement was posted a day after Chamisa snubbed talks called for by Mnangagwa on Wednesday. However, 12 other politicians who contested last year's disputed elections met the embattled president.
Zvizvai said for any genuine dialogue to be successful it needed to be facilitated by an independent regional arbiter such as the Southern African Development Community with African Union or UN guarantees.
The MDC’s 10 conditions for dialogue included the immediate cessation of all forms of violence including rape, killings, shootings, torture, abductions as well as a genuine and transparent process to bring to book those responsible for killing, maiming and raping defenseless citizens.
Restoring and guaranteeing the security of all citizens and immediately stopping arbitrary arrests, mass trials, and all violations of the rule of law is imperative.
The independence of the judiciary with guarantees must be supported by the cessation of all executive interference with judicial processes. Restoring law and order and ending malicious prosecutions and the miscarriage of justice is also essential, says the MDC.
The opposition is also calling for the release of all political detainees and prisoners of conscience and respect for human rights, particularly political freedoms.
All military personnel should return forthwith to their barracks as the country is not at war while freedom of association, expression and movement must be guaranteed, the political party adds.
Finally, the decriminalisation of the MDC, including an end to the harassment and persecution of its party leadership and their families, and the unbanning of civilian politics is an immediate step that needs to be implemented.
Meanwhile, reports from the capital, Harare, indicate that Mnangagwa was a no-show at a meeting with church leaders that was meant to workout ways for him to meet Chamisa.