SECRETIVE coalition talks are underway between Zanu PF leader, President Emmerson Mnangagwa, and Citizens Coalition for Change (CCC) front-man Nelson Chamisa with the aim of forming a seven-year government of national unity (GNU), NewZimbabwe.com can exclusively reveal.
Highly placed sources in Zanu PF, CCC, government and intelligence sources told NewZimbabwe.com in confidential briefings over the past three weeks that preliminary negotiations are already in motion and the parties have established have appointed focal persons to lead the talks.
According to the sources, both Mnangagwa and Chamisa a keen to avoid next year’s general elections, albeit for different reasons.
They reportedly used last month’s legislative and municipal by-elections to flex muscles and demonstrate political capital ahead of the talks.
Mnangagwa, whose presidency has suffered a serious legitimacy crisis from the time he took over after the November 2017 military coup and the highly contentious 2018 elections which saw his presidency being decided by a court order, wants to use the GNU to help to prevent similar circumstances.
Further to that, situation reports from the intelligence services do not give him a good chance of winning the elections, especially with the economy in bad shape.
On the other hand, sources in the CCC said, Chamisa has virtually conceded that while he may be popular enough to win the 2023 presidential election, his chances of taking over power are very slim given how the security system is deeply entrenched in the Zanu PF scheme of things.
One senior bureaucrat claimed Chamisa proposed a seven-year GNU, which will imply the elections will only be held in 2030.
The sources said Zanu PF is being represented in the talks by its secretary for finance, Patrick Chinamasa – a shrewd negotiator who led the party’s negotiations for the 2009-13 GNU.
CCC is understood to have seconded astute mediator Gorden Moyo, although Chamisa denied it in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com, conducted as part of investigations for this article.
“Preliminary talks are indeed underway and both parties appear to be eager to have an arrangement that can work,” an official source said.
“The groundwork was actually laid down last year. There was a time when Chamisa met with some senior government officials and confided with them that he was interested in an arrangement that can postpone elections for seven years and intelligence people took that in the form of a recording to ED (Mnangagwa), who was excited about it and went on to give Chinamasa the task to lead the talks,” the source said.
“So, I can tell you with certainly that there have been meetings between representatives of the two leaders, but they have been held in deep secrecy,” the source further said.
Another source added: “The March 26 by-elections were mainly used to showcase capabilities and to test the waters. The result was shocking to both sides because they ate into each other’s territories.”
“There were some people in Zanu PF who actually did not want the by-elections to happen but ED insisted he wanted them because they would be useful to gauge the atmosphere and decide whether or not to proceed with elections next year. There is general consensus in the party that these polls were a rude awakening because they did not anticipate Chamisa would be so popular. Most of the top people in the party now want the GNU,” the source said.
“As for Chamisa, the idea was to showcase himself as a formidable optician and the good showing in the by-elections gave him the necessary pedestal for talks. He dearly wanted those elections to show ED that he has people and can actually win the elections next year.”
Chamisa was diplomatic when interviewed by NewZimbabwe.com over the phone, opting to just say: “We know for sure Zanu PF does not want elections. They are terrified by elections.”
Asked if it was true that Gorden Moyo was leading the talks on his behalf, Chamisa said: “Gorden Moyo coming in as who? Maybe if they talk about other people (being involved) and not that one.”
Efforts to get comments from Chinamasa or presidential spokesperson George Charamba were fruitless as calls on their numbers repeatedly failed to get through.
However, writing in his weekly column @Jamwanda2 On Saturday, on March 26, Charamba gave key insights on the proceedings.
“He (Chamisa) is surrounded by sharp lawyers who are politically daft, and by parasitic academics who know no ABC of basic politics, their loudness notwithstanding,” Charamba wrote.
“And he knows it, which is why he has chosen to outsource advice, and to pursue the path of schizophrenia: appearing to battle Zanu PF electorally, while courting the same through a multitude of emissaries, in the hope of post by-electoral and pre-2023 election accommodation that would suspend harmonised elections.