We are ready to jump ship if Zanu PF proves insincere: POLAD members

Republican Party of Zimbabwe (RPZ) leader, Kwanele Hlabangana, has said opposition parties engaged in talks with the ruling ZANU-PF party on resolving the country’s political and economic crisis could abandon talks if they felt the latter was insincere.

In May last year ZANU-PF and some of the smaller opposition political parties that participated in the 2018 polls, launched the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD), a platform through they claim to be sharing ideas on how Zimbabwe’s challenges could be addressed.

The mainstream opposition party, Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) led by Nelson Chamisa snubbed POLAD.

Remarks by RPZ leader, one of the members of POLAD, comes at a time when the grouping has just rejected Constitutional Amendment (No.2) Bill demanding that it be withdrawn from Parliament forthwith.

The Bill crafted at a time when talks between ZANU-PF and other POLAD members are ongoing seeks among other things to repeal provisions on the presidential running mates, exempting judges from public interviews and extending beyond 70 years their retirement age.

Responding to questions from CITE on the ruling party’s commitment to the talks, at a press conference in Bulawayo last Friday, Hlabangana said their association with POLAD did not mean that they did not have options, adding they entered the dialogue in good faith hoping the best would come out for Zimbabweans.

“It doesn’t mean we don’t have options, because we are opposition politicians,” said Hlabangana.  

“If we feel that they (ZANU-PF) are not sincere we will also go back and throw stones like others. So, we have a choice. It is not like we are going to stick here. We have come in and said we want to assist, we want to complement what they (ZANU-PF) are doing, we want to come up with fresh ideas as political parties.”

Hlabangana said they got into POLAD because they wanted to give Zimbabwe a chance for dialogue while also improving people’s lives.

Asked what had POLAD achieved since its inception, Hlabangana had this to say: “What we want to tell you is that POLAD was formed in May 2019, so if you can count months you will see the period. We have been busy putting together our plans. POLAD is just a new baby; we have hit the ground running. We are confident that by the time we leave the table, you will see the pregnancy.”

Lovemore Madhuku, president of the National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), also a POLAD member, said it was unfair for them to be asked of their achievements when they were not in government.

“Ask what Mnangagwa has achieved,” suggested Madhuku.

“We are giving him ideas to govern but we are not the government of the day.  That must be clear. All you can ask is: ‘Do you think your ideas have worked?”

He said it was also rather premature to ascertain whether their ideas had worked.

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