NELSON Chamisa’s opposition MDC has dropped a key demand questioning the legitimacy of President Emmerson Mnangagwa, paving the way for possible talks between the chief political rivals to resolve Zimbabwe’s political and economic crises.

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The opposition party has refused to recognise Mnangagwa’s presidency since the disputed polls of July 31 last year, and accused the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (Zec) of poll theft.

Chamisa (pictured) has often referred to Mnangagwa as an illegitimate president.

But Mnangagwa has remained resolute that any talks must be predicated on the opposition
recognising his poll victory.

The issue became a stumbling block and scuppered numerous efforts to bring the two protagonists together.

However, when the MDC’s national executive council (Nec) met at the weekend, it released a statement that did not refer to the legitimacy of Mnangagwa and, instead, concentrated on electoral reforms only.

“The party reiterated its commitment to a sincere, honest and credible dialogue process,” the communiqué read.

“The dialogue must unlock the impediments that have stood in the way of a credible dialogue process, under a mutually agreed convener, which must focus on a comprehensive reform agenda to ensure the security and freedoms of citizens as well as ensuring a free, fair and credible election that must yield a people’s government.”

An insider said the party had realised that it would not get any traction if it kept pushing on the legitimacy issue and attempting to remove Mnangagwa from power through demonstrations, leading to a focus on electoral reforms.

“It’s now more than a year since Mnangagwa got into power through a sham election, according to us, but he holds the army, police and support of regional leaders,” the insider said.

“Demonstrations have been violently crushed and our people injured, so we are now focusing on ensuring that we win important electoral reforms than remove him before 2023 ends. The economy is most likely to achieve

But Chamisa’s spokesperson Nkululeko Sibanda yesterday claimed the party had won the legitimacy battle.

“We have won the legitimacy battle. Mnangagwa himself admits that he is illegitimate and talking to Polad is his cheap attempt to buy legitimacy. The economy speaks to his illegitimacy. Nobody wants to invest or deal with an illegitimate leader. Even South Africa can’t help Zimbabwe financially, so we have not backed down,” Sibanda said.

The MDC is focusing more on electoral reforms.

“The party’s continued participation (and poor showing) in by-elections has exposed the dire need for prudent electoral reforms. A compromised election management system, the murkiness around voting material, the abuse of traditional leaders and the use of food as a political weapon continues to be rampant in the countryside, justifying the need for genuine electoral reforms,” the resolution read.

The MDC will now table its own electoral Bill in Parliament, a few weeks after Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (Zesn) submitted a draft electoral Bill to the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jacob Mudenda, pushing for comprehensive electoral reforms.

The Zesn Bill seeks to give more powers to Zec and wean it off the Justice ministry in an effort to make it more independent from political players.