Heal Zimbabwe welcomes the call by President Emmerson Mnangagwa for a National Dialogue. However, the slow pace that has characterized the implementation of such a noble call remains worrying. Disquieting is also that such calls have come at a time when several citizens including civil society leaders continue experiencing violence and repression at the hands of members of the security services.
Heal Zimbabwe suggests that the proposed National Dialogue must be preceded by an All Stakeholder Summit mediated by regional guarantors including the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and the African Union (AU). Zimbabweans from across the political divide including women, youths, children, people living with disabilities and other key stakeholders must collectively table their concerns. Thereafter, a national political dialogue should ensure that collective grievances from the citizens are reflected and turned into a national recovery plan. The national dialogue should generate a clear roadmap that salvages the country from collapsing. The government, churches and civic organizations must support the political dialogue and appreciate the people’s grievances, issues and concerns.
Heal Zimbabwe implores political parties to demonstrate political will and maturity on the need for the dialogue in the interest of citizens. In preparation for the national dialogue, political parties must also desist from demanding issues that are self-centered and without citizens at heart. This is so because pursuing dialogue in inappropriate manners and at inappropriate times may do harm because of the way it reduces confidence, increases cynicism and contributes to what has become known as ‘dialogue fatigue.’
Added to this, Heal Zimbabwe also implores the government and its security service arms to cease violent crackdown on unarmed citizens. In pursuit of justice, there is need for the government to restore the rule of law, constitutionalism and political accountability. Further to this, government must initiate a bottom-up healing and reconciliation process that prioritizes concerns from survivors.
In light of the above, Heal Zimbabwe maintains that a credible National Dialogue must prioritize the following;
1.Credible Facilitation. It is important to have facilitation by skilled facilitators that are acceptable to all parties to make the process comfortable and even-handed as possible
2.Sufficient Political Commitment. Political commitment is key for the dialogue to reach inclusive agreements; and for effective implementation.
3.Collective Leadership Capability. The success of any dialogue is hinged on the capability of leaders to reach compromises and to form coalitions across political and social divides in order to implement decisions that have been made through the dialogue process.
4.Adequate inclusion. The aspect of inclusion is of critical importance because exclusion has been often a major cause of conflict in Zimbabwe. Therefore, stakeholders to the dialogue must be inclusive enough to safeguard legitimacy of decisions. More importantly is the inclusion of women in the political dialogue process since they have suffered the brunt of violence during successive episodes of political conflict in the country. The inclusion of youth is also highly important given the demographic realities of our country.