SW Radio Africa (London)

10 July 2014

Zimbabwe: Zanu-PF Admits Failure, Calls On MDC-T for Ideas

ZANU PF has finally admitted that it is clueless on how to solve the economic crisis facing the country, and now wants to engage the opposition for ideas.

The admission came through the party's spokesman Rugare Gumbo on Tuesday when he told the Daily News newspaper that his party is ready for broad-based talks to find solutions to the economic mess the country is in.

Gumbo further expressed his party's readiness to talk to MDC-T leader Morgan Tsvangirai, but on condition that the opposition leader acknowledges President Mugabe's disputed electoral victory. The ZANU PF official also wants references and criticism of the party failures to stop.

It is not clear why the ruling party suddenly appears willing to talk to the MDC-T after rejecting similar calls from key opposition figures such as Tendai Biti and Tsvangirai.

Some political observers point to the party's own internal financial crises as one of the reasons. They say while ZANU PF had considerable resources going into last year's elections, the party spent these with reckless abandon and was now even failing to pay its workers.

Others say the lifeless economy, the international community and Zimbabweans who are demanding results in the way of jobs and industrial activity, are all exerting pressure on the ruling party to come up with solutions.

What is clear though is that ZANU PF officials know that they are bereft of ideas and solutions. "The economic transformation we want to achieve requires the voice of everyone, including the opposition and civic society," Gumbo said.

Speaking on SW Radio Africa's Big Picture programme, political analyst Rejoice Ngwenya said when ZANU PF is involved, talking is one thing and listening another.

"I want to take ZANU PF's offer for talks with a pinch of salt. When you trace the ruling party's offers to talk, you will realise that they are always being dragged to the table.

"For example in 2008 when they lost the elections but claimed victory they had to be dragged to the negotiating table by South African President Thabo Mbeki.

"ZANU PF has this big brother, winner-takes-all mentality and doesn't want to listen to listen to anyone. If they resisted talks when they had clearly lost the election, there is nothing to persuade them to do so now when their egos are very high due to their claimed two-thirds majority," Ngwenya said.

Ngwenya said if the talks ever go ahead, ZANU PF will likely continue to treat whoever is part of those talks with disdain and as a junior partner.

"I doubt very much that they will go through with it, we have seen so many outcomes from talks that have simply been ignored, including the political and economic reforms that are still outstanding from the period of the Coalition."

Zimbabwe Social Democrats spokesman Wilbert Mukori welcomed the possibility of talks but called for equal partnership as the basis for the economic dialogue.

Mukori said the ruling party should first acknowledge that the root cause of the country's political and economic crisis is that the party rigged the 2013 elections.

"The only reason ZANU PF would not want to accept this basic fact is because it will want to be the dominant group in the talks and that the regime should have the veto on any decisions coming out of the talks."

"We are pleased that a year of staring on the mockingly empty ZimAsset begging bowl has finally brought those in ZANU PF back to their senses. We will meet and talk as long as these are serious talks," Mukori said in a statement.

MDC-T spokesman Douglas Mwonzora said they are not sure whether Gumbo was speaking for ZANU PF or in his personal capacity.

"But what should be clear to everyone by now is that the Zimbabwean crisis can only be resolved through an all-inclusive national dialogue.

"In calling for dialogue we are not calling for another government of national unity, we want genuine dialogue to resolve the country's problems. The economy is biting everyone, ZimAsset has failed and only concerted effort can help resolve these problems."

Mwonzora said his party will not accept any preconditions for the talks. "If any conditions should exist they should be that this should be a discussion among equals, there should be sincerity and the resolutions from these talks should be executed," he said.

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