On February 2019, I received an invitation to the above meeting. It was initially set for Thursday 7th at Munhumutapa Building, but was later changed to Wednesday 6th at the State House and convened by the National Peace 8, Reconciliation Commission’s, Retired Justice Nare
I attended as has been widely reported by the media. Without prior notice, the attending Presidential candidates were asked to give a presentation, as input, to the framework and end with recommendations for the same.
My observations were as follows;
1. During the campaign period, H.E Mnangagwa proclaimed that there would be peaceful elections and that is what I and APA experienced, during our door to door campaign throughout the country. I then asked why President Mnangagwa could not do the same now in addressing the violence that has ensued since and act on it.
2. It is our belief that freedom of speech, movement and expression are not respected as evidenced by the continued beatings, rapes and arrests. Therefore, we would like to know why government is not upholding the rights of the citizens that gave them the mandate to govern and be custodians of their laws and state?
3. APA welcomes the initiative to dialogue with the President from time to time however we must not confuse the role of opposition parties and that of the government. We have an elected government that must be held accountable. It is their responsibility to fix the economy and the problems bedeviling our nation. As the Executive, it is within their power to ensure a conducive environment for economic recovery and growth. It is also their responsibility to guard against human rights abuse and to foster national cohesion.
4. Following the very steep fuel price adjustment, in our opinion people had justifiable grounds for protesting as is their constitutional right. We believe the government reacted with disproportionate force resulting in the unnecessary loss of life. The question that arises from this is, “What does the government regard as appropriate and legitimate ways for citizens to push back against government’s actions that they disagree with,”
5. It is clear that there is dissonance between the President, pronouncements and his orders . evidenced by the actions of the security forces. These actions are totally divorced from what happened in November 2017! The use of a private jet on State business to the Balkans is yet another such example, of extreme dissonance between words and deeds.
6. The continued beatings, rapes, arrests and military presence in the high-density residential are. of Zimbabwe shows a total disregard for human rights. It goes without saying that this behavior cannot possibly result in a cohesive Zimbabwe.
7. Our view as APA is that the government must, first fix the country, address all these internal issues and only then can the government seek support of the outside world and expect a positive response.
After all the presentations, a motion to have dialogue was agreed in principal. The group awaits further clarification on the formation of the dialogue.
Elton Mangoma of CODE tabled to have 3 committees as follows:
i. Institutional Framework
ii. Agenda Items
iii. Convener Committee
I and APA participated because this is an opportunity to get the de facto government to do the right things for the people. All the institutions of the state are under their control, all the things we know to be wrong with the army, police and service delivery broadly can be brought to the government, attention through this platform. Clearly, we reserve the right to pull out should we see no change nor willingness to change in behavior by the government. It would have been wrong not to attempt to give this platform an opportunity to work for Zimbabweans.