By Marshall Bwanya
In every era of Zimbabwe’s history, the national dialogue has always produced solutions to political, economic and social crises.
The authentic national dialogue has constantly resulted in unity, peace and economic progress amongst Zimbabwean communities.
April 18, 1980, was a turning point, a new dispensation as Zimbabwe was born prior to Lancaster House agreements. A wave of euphoria swept across the new nation.
The masses poured their economic and political expectations on the new ZANU government which had inherited ‘a jewel of Africa,’ with a functional employment creation mechanism that was expected to drive the country into a new Africa of former colonies.
However, within 10 years the nation had undergone civil strife which was characterised by high levels of tribalism, human rights abuses at the hands of the fifth brigade, disregard for the rule of law which saw all perceived anti-ZANU PF politicians facing persecution, Joshua Nkomo and Dumiso Dabengwa quickly come to mind.
The National Unity Accord signed on 22 November 1987 between ZANU PF and ZAPU ended years of civil strife and near civil unrest.
The accord which united the two revolutionary parties ended hostile political divisions and intolerance that had resulted in the massacre of some 20,000 largely Ndebele speaking people.
In the early 90s, the economy had taken another knock, thousands were left unemployment after the government implemented an economic adjustment programme that induced more suffering and poverty on the masses.
By 1998 the largest trade union, Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) had birthed the most supported opposition political party to protest the economic injustices at the hands of ZANU PF.
In the 2000s human rights abuses escalated, then president Robert Mugabe became an unapologetic dictator, property rights were ignored, opposition political players were killed like flies, and as expected the economy took a nose dive.
The period between 2006 and 2008 was the worst; at a time RBZ governor, Gideon Gono’s Bearers Cheques were worthless the army was in the rural areas killing all the red-tshirted MDC supporters.
There was an obvious need for a quick solution as Mugabe threatened to kill everyone even when it was clear that he was the failure and basic commodity shortages could not be blamed on sanctions.
MDC eventually pulled out of the presidential runoff after a contested first-round loss by Mugabe against MDC’s late president Morgan Tsvangirai. Thousands were killed for that by the army.
In 2008 political negotiations between ZANU PF, MDC-T and its splinter MDC resulted in a powering sharing arrangement in government. The Government of National Unity (GNU) helped stabilise the economy which was already beyond its knees.
Peace and development temporarily returned to Zimbabwe.
State abuses disappeared and the politics of that day became more development-oriented rather than ideological or mere propaganda.
Zimbabwe’s 2013 Constitution was a product of national dialogue by political leaders, church leaders, civil society and other stakeholders in liaison.
Following the recent July 30, 2018, contested the presidential election, marred by violence and electoral irregularities our nation has been exposed to new a political legitimacy crisis, morphing into an economic and social crisis. The situation once again escalated to a series of violent protests. To thwart the violent protests the government unleashed a brutal military crackdown.
Fast forward to January 14-21 2019 and the second wave of a brutal military crackdown has resulted in the death of 12 civilians, an injured 80 with gunshot wounds and over 800 detained without trial. Security services launched a door to door manhunt, beating, raping and abducting unarmed civilians.
Scores of women and girls have since reached out to various human rights organisations and NGOs alleging they were raped and abused.
Women and girls victimised by the security services bemoaned they could not report and lay charges of rape on the police as they feared for their lives and security.
As illustrated above Zimbabwe’s historical crises have been solved through dialogue, not for politicians but the suffering masses.
We need dialogue.
We need ZANU PF to talk to the MDC, we need Chamisa and Mnangagwa to bury the hatchet, be humble and dialogue or we risk falling into a trap that will ensure that we become a pariah state for sure and it will be at their watch.
This national dialogue like previous ones must facilitate an immediate political and economic blueprint to detox Zimbabwe from this militant rule, restoration of constitutional order and democratic governance.
Marshal Bwanya is a political and socio-economic commentator from Bulawayo but currently based in Harare. He writes in his own capacity and can be contacted at email@example.com