EDITORIAL COMMENT : Dialogue will help the country deal with its past

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For the second time in as many months, President Mnangagwa hosted leaders of the Matabeleland Civic Society at the Bulawayo State House to discuss some of the sensitive issues in that region.

Most of them are historical wrongs that were not openly discussed and resolved in the past.

Since assuming office, the President has committed himself to discussing these issues, including the sensitive and emotive issue of Gukurahundi massacres that occurred in the early years of independence under the previous administration.

He has acknowledged that he was part of that administration and therefore has responsibility to seek closure to these issues.

He has also pointed out that as Africans, we have cultural and spiritual ways of resolving these issues, without playing to the international gallery.

We commend the civic and political leadership of Matabeleland and the Midlands, which bore the brunt of the civil unrest in the early 1980s, for agreeing to find a Zimbabwean solution to these issues.

And dialogue is the only way to resolve these issues in a manner that fosters peace and tranquillity.

President Mnangagwa told the group last Friday: “My Government is committed to promoting the spirit of cooperation and dialogue amongst all Zimbabweans, where dialogue eclipses confrontation as a method of choice in resolving thorny issues that may rise or have arisen in our society.”

We agree with the President.

Zimbabwe has so many sore wounds and unresolved issues that need resolution and we need to talk about them in a sober and mature way. We do not need outsiders to come and solve these issues for us.

They can only come at our invitation if we feel we have failed to find each other.

The goal must always be to talk about these issues to move forward. It does not help for anyone to take entrenched positions that keep the country in a state of paralysis.

President Mnangagwa, in his frank discussion with the Matabeleland Civic Society, made it clear that he was prepared to talk about all issues.

“However, we must resist the urge to elevate any differences that arise out of discussions aimed at resolving the issues in Matabeleland to a level where they become permanent barriers that prevent meaningful dialogue amongst us,” he said.

The Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) is yet another platform set up to resolve national issues in an inclusive manner.

Parties, big and small, have been invited to sit down as equals and talk about all the issues they think can help to build a better, peaceful and prosperous Zimbabwe.

A lot of time and money have been invested in these discussions, and indications are that there is a common understanding on a lot of issues.

The national interest has been the driving force. For example, the parties have taken a position to push for the removal of economic sanctions against the country.

They have formed a committee to lead the re-engagement process with the West.

They are coming from a simple premise that anything that is not in favour of the people of Zimbabwe, anything that does promote their livelihoods, is not good for the country and therefore cannot be said to be in the national interest.

Sanctions are clearly not in the national interest and it should not be difficult to find unanimity on that. But all this comes when people sit together and consider each other’s views in a non-condescending manner.

The economy is another area where dialogue is taking place through the Tripartite Negotiating Forum (TNF).

The forum brings together the Government, business and labour to talk about prices, wages, productivity and many other issues that stimulate the economy.

Again, it may take time for the different positions to be harmonised.

What is of interest is that for the first time in a long time, we have seen leaders of organised labour taking the same position as the Government, advocating that salaries should be linked to the poverty datum line, while business is opposed to this position.

This platform gives labour an opportunity to further mend its relations with the Government and push other demands that promote the welfare of workers.

The Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) had unwittingly aligned itself with the opposition MDC-Alliance, shutting down lines of communication with the real centre of power.

Workers were the losers as the Government found it easier to work with business organisations that have remained apolitical.

There are many other forms of dialogue taking place at different platforms as Zimbabwe forges ahead with its reform agenda.

These include electoral and media reforms aimed at creating a more conducive environment for democratic participation by all Zimbabweans.

President Mnangagwa’s Government is making it clear that it has nothing to hide and would like to discuss all issues.

At the recent Africa Union (AU) Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe subscribed to the peer review mechanism, opening itself to scrutiny by other African leaders.

Zimbabwe has always submitted to Sadc and the AU and cooperated with efforts to help it resolve some of its challenges.

Peer review simply sends a clear message that Zimbabwe is committed to all principles and protocols that it is subscribing to.

There is no better way of doing this than showing commitment to dialogue and transparency on the home front.

After all, our foreign policy is tethered on the domestic policies that we pursue.

HERALD

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