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ZANU PF bigwigs reportedly opposed to Mnangagwa’s POLAD


President Emmerson Mnangagwa is reportedly facing resistance from within ZANU PF over his plans to revive the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) initiative.

ZANU PF officials critical of POLAD argue that the platform amounts to nothing more than a talk shop funded by taxpayers, yielding no tangible results.

Mnangagwa launched POLAD on 17 May 2019 after the hotly contested 2018 elections but the then main opposition party, the Movement for Democratic Change Alliance refused to join.

Those who joined POLAD were rewarded with top-of-the-range Isuzu D Max vehicles and hefty allowances.

A month after the disputed 2023 general elections, writing in his State-controlled newspaper column, Mnangagwa said he said he intended to reinstate POLAD. He wrote:

I intend to reinstate the framework for Political Actors Dialogue, Polad. It served us remarkably well in the last five years, helping us to find each other across the political divide, thus conceiving policies for our nation collectively.

To that end, I shall be inviting leaders of all political parties who participated in the just-ended harmonised elections so, together, we refashion the framework to make it more responsive and better able to serve the times and our nation.

I trust that my invitation will be welcomed by most if not all, political actors. Party politics must never stand in the way, or make us deaf to the call to work together for the collective good of our people and our nation. Zimbabwe is our country together.

However, nine months into Mnangagwa’s second and final term, POLAD still lies dormant. In an interview with NewsDay on Sunday, Mnangwa’s spokesperson George Charamba said his principal was still committed to the dialogue platform. Said Charamba:

The President has committed to the dialogue platform. He has, however, merely indicated he was not averse to the political dialogue platform and as to when and in what form or shape it takes, becomes his prerogative.

NewsDay reported sources as saying some ZANU PF bigwigs are of the view that POLAD is not necessary since the ruling party commands a huge majority in Parliament. Said a senior official:

Most of the presidential candidates in the last election did not garner significant numbers and they hold no influential political capital, so there is no need to waste taxpayers’ money on the platform.

He [Mnangagwa] feels the platform is good for political optics and is going ahead with the initiative. He was supposed to meet the other POLAD principals just after the independence celebrations, but the problem is that the convener, POLAD head of secretariat Virginia Mabhiza is always outside the country.

Most of the presidential candidates were in Murambinda during Independence [Day] and they are waiting to be told the date to meet the President.

Critics argue that POLAD is more about diluting the opposition rather than strengthening multi-party democracy.

Some question the source of funding for vehicles and allowances given to political interlocutors under POLAD.

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