Under pressure Mnangagwa invites Zim opposition leaders for talks

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HARARE, February ‑ President Emmerson Mnangagwa has invited presidential candidates who participated in Zimbabwe’s 2018 elections to a meeting to discuss the framework for post-election dialogue.

“The President of the Republic of Zimbabwe, His Excellency Cde ED Mnangagwa, is inviting leaders of all political parties who participated in the presidential election of July 30, 2018, to a meeting to discuss a framework for dialogue and interaction,” Chief Secretary to the President and Cabinet, Misheck Sibanda, said in a letter addressed to political leaders Tuesday.

The meeting will be held Wednesday afternoon at State House.

Each presidential candidate is expected to bring at most three other members.

Mnangagwa, who has been adamant that he was not going to engage members of the opposition who do not recognise his presidency, called for a meeting after civil society, political figures and the international community ratcheted pressure to end harassment and human rights abuses being perpetrated by the military.

The military moved into the streets of Zimbabwe following nationwide protests sparked by astronomical fuel price hikes.

The brutal clampdown by security forces last month left least 12 civilians dead. Zimbabwe Doctors for Human Rights said as many as 68 people were treated for gunshot wounds.

Mnangagwa’s nemesis, MDC leader Nelson Chamisa, is yet to pronounce his position on the invitation extended by the incumbent.

“He will take a position by tomorrow (Wednesday) morning,” Chamisa’s spokesperson, Nkululeko Sibanda said in an interview with African News Agency Tuesday night.

Build Zimbabwe leader Noah Manyika said he would be attending the meeting “if, as stated in the invitation, it is to discuss the framework for dialogue”.

Manyika, however, said genuine dialogue could only take place when political prisoners have been released and the military called off the streets.

“In my view, real and meaningful dialogue that will lead to the change we desperately need in our country can only happen if the people wrongfully detained have been released and the army is withdrawn completely from the streets and from manning roadblocks,” he said.

“It can only take place if, as the President promised upon his return from his overseas trip, the heads of those who have been responsible for brutalising citizens roll.”

Zimbabwe, which is in a serious economic meltdown, has as many as 90 percent of its workers out of a job. And the few who still have jobs can not withdraw their earnings from banks because there is a severe shortage of cash.

Hospitals have no drugs.

On Tuesday some teachers and other civil servants began a stay-away to press for better wages.

The talks are seen as a possible way out of the morass.

– African News Agency (ANA)