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MDC, Zanu-PF snub churches dialogue





AN all-political parties' indaba called by the Zimbabwe Council of Churches (ZCC) to end the current stalemate and possibly forestall antigovernment protests scheduled for July 31 hit a brickwall yesterday after the country's two major parties Zanu-PF and MDC Alliance snubbed the event.

The MDC Alliance argued that it could not be involved in a dialogue with a rival faction led by Thokozani Khupe who they accuse of fronting the interests of President Emmerson Mnangagwa and his Zanu-PF party.

ZCC secretary-general Kenneth Mtata, who called for the dialogue to enable leaders of the main political parties to find common ground, said 17 parties attended the dialogue, but did not say if MDC Alliance and Zanu-PF attended.

Khupe's MDC-T faction was represented by Paurina Mpariwa, an MDC Alliance proportional representation MP, who recently defected to the Khupe camp.

Zanu-PF information director Tafadzwa Mugwadi said his party was not part of the dialogue.

"To the best of my knowledge, we are not part of that. I will check, but we were not part of it," Mugwadi said.

MDC Alliance deputy spokesperson Clifford Hlatshwayo also confirmed that his party did not attend the meeting.

"We did not attend. The MDC Alliance, however, supports all efforts that will culminate in a broader front to resolve the current political and economic crises facing the country," he said.

The party has endorsed the July 31 march being organised by Zimbabweans to protest against corruption and failure by Mnangagwa's administration to address the current crises.

However, a senior MDC Alliance official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they snubbed the meeting in protest over the invitation of the "rebels".

"We told the conveners that we will not be part of that meeting. They invited the Khupe party and the issue is we can't be equalised with the renegades who are stealing our party. We would rather negotiate with Mnangagwa rather than his conduits," the senior MDC Alliance official said.

"We cannot be seen to be negotiating with people who are being used by Zanu-PF to push an anti-people agenda by destroying the people's party."

Mtata said some of the parties that took part at the Kentucky Hotel meeting were organisers of the July 31 protests, Transform Zimbabwe led by Jacob Ngarivhume, Build Zimbabwe and Mthwakazi Republic Party.

"Among the challenges raised by the participants were first the need to realise the nation is in an emergency situation," Mtata said in a statement late last night.

Concerns were raised on the way government was dealing with the current health crisis and failing to address issues raised by striking nurses and doctors.

The participants also raised concern over the alleged abuse of COVID-19 funds and the deteriorating human rights situation in the country and called for a national broad-based dialogue to address the crisis, he added.

MDC-T deputy spokesperson Khalipani Phugeni confirmed that their party was represented at the meeting, adding that he was yet to get details of what transpired.

"Yes, we attended the meeting. Our party was represented by Honourable Mpariwa and a technical person from ourparty," he said.

Khupe is opposed to the July 31 protests. Her faction, MDC-T, was supposed to hold its extraordinary congress on the same day, but that now looks unlikely because of COVID-19 and "security issues".

"We are worried and suspicious because we have intelligence that there are credible attempts to disrupt our congress and we found it to be very suspicious that after we announce our date and then there is this demonstration," Phugeni said.

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Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka
Chuka (Webby) Aniemeka

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