The leader of Zimbabwe’s main opposition Nelson Chamisa snubbed the invitation by President Emmerson Mnangagwa’s national dialogue summit on Wednesday, just weeks after security forces crushed protests over the doubling of fuel prices in the troubled southern African nation.
Speaking to Report Focus on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the meeting of political leaders, which was scheduled to take place at the presidential offices.
Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda said “He is not attending.”
Chamisa’s spokesman went on to say: “The dialogue should be facilitated by someone who is neutral, rather than Mnangagwa being an umpire when his election is in dispute.”
President Mnangagwa had posted an announcement via Twitter saying: “I have invited the leaders of all political parties to come together, without preconditions, to begin a process of national dialogue.
“Let us all put the people first and politics second,” he said. In response Chamisa tweeted that the “presidency is disputed” because of “rigged presidential election result”. “We need genuine dialogue under a credible convener and mediator to solve this crisis,” he said. “Stop citizens’ abuses, beatings and arrests,” he quipped.
The summit, which was pencilled for Wednesday afternoon, is taking place against a backdrop of a deepening economic crisis.
The crisis reached breaking point in January when tens of thousands took part in nationwide protests after Mnangagwa more than doubled fuel prices.
The demonstrations were brutally crushed, leading to the deaths of at least 12 people, along with documented cases of torture and sexual assault at the hands of the security forces.Hundreds of people including trade union leaders and opposition politicians were detained.
Chamisa’s spokesman expressed contempt for the dialogue summit called by Mnangagwa as a ruse to divert attention from the abhorrent human rights violations and wanton killings perpetrated by the military under Mnangagwa’s rule.