The Sunday Mail
Political parties under the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) say they recorded notable successes in 2019, including influencing Government to re-introduce grain subsidies that had been scrapped in the 2020 Budget as part of austerity measures.
POLAD was launched in May this year as part of President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s drive to bring unity among political players and chart the way forward for the country.
Under the grouping, political parties put aside partisan interests to engender a culture of peaceful engagement as a mechanism to deal with issues affecting the country, besieged by political polarisation after the 2018 harmonised elections.
It was in that spirit of unity of purpose that POLAD members convened their final meeting of the year on Unity Day, at President Mnangagwa’s farm in Kwekwe last week.
In a statement after the meeting, co-convener of the dialogue, who is also National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC) chairperson, Justice Selo Nare said POLAD had recorded some successes.
“Another major highlight was the positive response by Government in subsiding mealie-meal after POLAD’s engagement with responsible ministers,” said Justice Nare in the statement.
“The response by SADC to POLAD in solidarity with the Government on the unconditional removal of sanctions was also a major success.”
Justice Nare said POLAD had measured its progress against set objectives which include promoting sustainable dialogue in Zimbabwe and fostering peace, tolerance, unity and non-violence.
Other objectives include to promote national healing and reconciliation, restore and rebuild trust among communities, strengthen confidence in public institutions as well as influence Government policies towards people’s empowerment and poverty reduction.
POLAD also noted that some parties that are outside of the forum, in particular the MDC-Alliance led by Advocate Nelson Chamisa, was attempting to tarnish work being done under the dialogue forum.
“POLAD also noted the spirited disinformation campaign by parties outside POLAD and has resolved to activate its information response mechanism as a matter of urgency,” said Justice Nare
Other issues raised at the meeting include increases in fuel prices, school fees, rentals and the cost of some basic commodities. Diminishing incomes, electricity outages and eroded pensions were also of concern.
In his remarks during the dialogue, President Mnangagwa said POLAD had received endorsement at various international forums.
“When I travel outside of the country I speak about what we are doing as POLAD.
“At Sadc level, they have acknowledged POLAD and have encouraged us to continue what we are doing.
“When I go to the African Union and the United Nations, I also speak about POLAD,” he said
The President said the forum was a first in Sadc, with other countries saying they are willing to emulate what Zimbabwe is doing.
“Even in our region, there has never been a platform of this nature where diverse political parties come together on one table and still debate on issues we don’t agree on, but seek to find a middle way, a compromise and debate and the best argument takes the day.”
Chair of the POLAD monitoring and evaluation sub-committee Mr Nickson Nyikadzino, who is also MDC-T secretary-general, said members now understood economic challenges better through engagement with Cabinet ministers and other stakeholders.
“Through capacity building workshops and engagements with the ministers responsible for Finance; and Industry and Commerce, as well as the Reserve Bank Governor, I should say we now have a clear understanding of the problems that we face as a nation and that we help in luring investors and telling them about the good things about our country,” said Mr Nyikadzino.
An information department under the platform would be created to publicise its work and also counter negative publicity being perpetrated by parties outside the dialogue.