National Dialogues provide an inclusive, broad, and participatory official negotiation framework, which can resolve political crises and lead countries into political transitions. With mandates that include political reforms, constitution-making, and peacebuilding, these dialogues are convened to address issues of national concern, typically longstanding causes of conflict that have been brought to the fore by political protest or armed insurrection.
Usually relying on a mix of plenary sessions and working groups, National Dialogues have clear structures as well as defined rules and procedures for dialogue and decision-making. They may last from several days to several years, and their size and composition can vary considerably, from a hundred participants to several thousand.
National Dialogues are typically accompanied by broader societal consultations designed to communicate the results of negotiations and channel people’s demands into the process. These may take the form of consultations, commissions, high-level problem-solving workshops, and/or referendums. This largescale inclusion of society within a National Dialogue helps generate ownership.
From Benin and Yemen to Afghanistan and South Africa, dialogues have served as a means to ease political transitions in diverse contexts.
But there is still a group of people who are still struggling to fully comprehend the functioning, relevance, and effectiveness of these important forums for managing political transitions and building sustainable peace.
Although many churches in Zimbabwe have been clamouring for an urgent dialogue between President Emmerson Mnangagwa and leader of the main opposition party Advocate Nelson Chamisa, hoping such a comprehensive approach to the country’s worsening socio-political and economic situation will ease the burden, other voices in the ecclesiastical community beg to differ. To them, national dialogues cannot heal Zimbabwe.
Madzibaba Stephen Mugariri, a white garment wearing prophet fabled for his ‘back to sender’ miracle principle startlingly claimed that dialogue between President Mnangagwa and the Movement for Democratic Change leader won’t cure the economic crisis bedevilling the country.
Commensurate with a recent report by a local tabloid H-Metro, the Chitungwiza based cleric made the remarks on Friday whilst addressing his congregants, urging them not to take part in demonstrations against the government which he claimed will end in injuries or even deaths.
Here is a translation of what the prophet said, as quoted by the tabloid;
“This country is governed by the spirit, so everything is moved by the power of God, not the human’s mind. God is the one who chooses leaders and allows them to rule. Fighting government does not help people and those who continue to carry on with demonstrations will get injured and some killed for nothing.
It is within God’s power to remove any leader he doesn’t want. It does not need all people to fight president Mnangagwa instead, it needs all people to pray for him to continue being guided by God who chose him.
Those who think that things will go well in the country if President Mnangagwa joins hands with Chamisa are only deceiving themselves. If President Mnangagwa joins hands with Chamisa, even they carry each other on the back, that will not bring forth good living in this country.
“You may want Chamisa or any other leader not chosen by God to rule, it does not help. Put your faith in God and take all your grievances to God, not fighting the government.”
The cleric went on to advise his followers against mourning those who accidentally die in protests, saying they should be lamented by their peers who according to him have “malfunctioning brains”.
“Why would you die when they feast? Go plant, take hoes and work for your families,” said Madzibaba Stephen.
The prophet’s message arrived two weeks after the Nelson Chamisa-led MDC called for mass demonstrations which were aimed at pressuring the government to rectify the economic crisis characterised by a debilitating liquidity crunch, foreign currency shortages, rising inflation, spiralling basic commodity prices, erosion of disposable incomes, power outages and low productivity.
The MDC, which challenged the results of last year’s presidential elections, claiming they were rigged, has continued to poke holes at Mnangagwa’s legitimacy and has refused to engage him in dialogue unless he concedes defeat. Insiders from the opposition party indicated that with the demos, Mr Chamisa hopes that they will shove the President of the 2nd Republic into a corner, and subsequently into agreeing to talks for a possible transition.
But, the protest plans were rendered futile as the Zimbabwe Republic Police banned the gatherings, saying they had concrete evidence showing that MDC-Alliance had plans to roll out violent demonstrations, considering the assortment of weapons it has allegedly been smuggling into town.
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