Roman Catholic Church priest, Father Fidelis Mukonori, has implored President Emmerson Mnangagwa and CCC leader Nelson Chamisa to engage in one-on-one dialogue to unite the nation and move the country forward.
Chamisa rejected the outcome of the recent presidential election after the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) declared Mnangagwa the winner with 52.6% of the votes.
Speaking in an interview with a local media house, Mukonori said Chamisa should be “courageous” to concede defeat and engage Mnangagwa in dialogue rather than embark on street protests as it will lead to the killing of innocent people. The Herald quoted Mukonori as saying:
The one who says I am not satisfied and I believe the elections were not free and fair should also have the courage, it takes courage for someone to say let us sit down and discuss, it takes wisdom, courage is wisdom.
It is essential for the two to sit down and discuss. Discussions are more difficult than toy-toying on the streets and it will get people killed.
They (discussions) are more difficult because they require thinking and it is an exercise that has no textbook and thinking requires someone who has to know how to think.
Father Fidelis Mukonori shot to international fame in 2017 when he mediated between Robert Mugabe and the military generals who had taken control the country. The negotiations saw the ouster of Mugabe, who had ruled Zimbabwe with an iron fist for nearly 40 years.
Mukonori had been close to Mugabe for decades, having negotiated talks in the 1970s between guerrillas and colonial ruler Britain that led to independence in 1980 and saw Mugabe’s transformation from rebel leader to prime minister and president of Zimbabwe.
Meanwhile, Mukonori stated that it is not too late for Mnangagwa and Chamisa to engage in meaningful dialogue. He said:
We need that humility. It is only a lawyer who is called an educated person but there has to be a display to say indeed we are learned and therefore let us sit down and discuss.
I believe it is necessary, it is not too late to request the two sides, the winner and loser to say please can you sit down and discuss. There is a need for serious discussion.
CCC has responded to the call for dialogue by Father Mukonori saying that the only dialogue is about forming a National Transitional Authority pending a fresh election. In a statement, the party’s spokesperson, Promise Mkwananzi said;
Noting the statement from Father Mukonori, it is essential to put things into perspective before responding to his call. While Father Mukonori, has for years been a respected Father figure of the church in Zimbabwe, his conspicuous role in the events that led to the deposing of President Robert Mugabe through a coup by Mr. Mnangagwa diminished his societal standing and respect he once enjoyed. His skewed statements in today’s Herald Newspaper further affirm the questions which Zimbabweans have about the relationship Father Mukonori has with the Mnangagwa regime. Father Mukonori ought to extricate himself from this partisan position if he is to retain the respect which he commanded over the years. At the very least, the electoral sham of August 2023 did not pass the test for an election. In other words, the events of the 23rd & 24th of August 2023 cannot be a basis for Father Mukonori to talk about “winners & losers”. This is the position commonly held by all observer Missions that observed the elections. In short, if ever there would be dialogue in Zimbabwe, it would not take place on the basis of a winner and a loser but on the basis of two of Zimbabwe’s political leaders namely President @nelsonchamisa and Mr Mnangagwa. Their dialogue would need to take place outside the purview of the ill-fated & illegal POLAD Framework-a feeding trough for fringe political “leaders” who only care about their stomachs & the benefits extended to them by Mr. Mnangagwa to undermine the leading party in Zimbabwe: the @CCCZimbabwe Accordingly, a genuine bilateral framework for dialogue will need to be facilitated between the two political leaders. In addition the dialogue must include several other key Stakeholders such as the church, civil society, Business, women, youth, informal traders etc. The dialogue must be underwritten by @SADC_News from the outset & be confined to only one objective: To establish a Transitional Authority whose sole mandate would be to deal with all issues that hinder a free & fair election in Zimbabwe such as the disbanding of ZEC, political & media reforms etc & the conduction of a fresh, free & fair election within the shortest practicable time to save Zimbabwe & indeed the region which may suffer the most from the spillover effects of Zimbabwe’s incessant electoral disputes. CCC Spokeperson, Promise Mkwananzi