Citizens’ Manifesto Reiterates Calls for Broad Based Inclusive National Dialogue as the Basis for a Viable Way Forward for the Country

The Citizens’ Manifesto notes with grave concern the continued collapse of the Zimbabwean economy and the social crisis caused by the deterioration in the standards of living of citizens due erosion of incomes by incessant price hikes, coupled with attempts by the authorities to close the space for workers’ collective bargaining. Repeated calls for the authorities to address the situation have been met with reluctance, palpable lack of concern and lack of urgent action. Following the recent 2nd National Citizens Convention (NCC) on 24-25 September 2019, citizens expressed unequivocal calls for the government to act urgently on the issues they raised in the Convention’s widely circulated communique.

The Citizens’ Manifesto reiterates its call for an inclusive national dialogue which encompasses the aspirations of the nation in all its diversity. In a communique dated 6 February 2019 and a position paper of May 2019, titled: “Towards a Framework for Inclusive National Dialogue” which followed a national consultation meeting and engagements with the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission (NPRC), the Citizens’ Manifesto has proposed a framework for an inclusive national dialogue, underpinned by the following eight (8) conditions:

  1. Inclusivity
  2. Informed Participation
  3. Safety and Security
  4. Neutral and Credible Convening
  5. Technically Competent Facilitation
  6. People Centered- Agenda
  7. International Mediation and Guarantee
  8. Independent Monitoring

In this regard, we note and welcome various efforts towards urging the nation to embrace national dialogue, including the recent call by the Heads of Christian Denominations for a National Sabbath. The Citizens’ Manifesto lauds and supports the ongoing efforts by the church to unlock the protracted crisis, but reiterates that any outcome of the envisaged inclusive national dialogue should not be prescribed ahead of time, but must emerge as a direct result of clearly outlined and transparent processes which are premised on broad-based consultation of citizens from all spheres of society. With all due respect to the positions taken by the churches, it falls short in pushing for an outcome without due process.

While there may be temptations, like in past political dialogues, to merely address the question of political power, Zimbabwe’s crisis has deep-seated social and economic dimensions which require urgent comprehensive redressing. Our multi-faceted crisis requires a broad-based approach to bring about a lasting and acceptable solution.

While Citizens’ Manifesto recognizes the urgency of our national crisis, and incessant attacks on citizens’ livelihoods and basic dignity, we emphasize the need to restrain from prescribing solutions which skirt around the wholesale brokenness of our system. Most importantly the Constitution, as the repository of the social contract, should never be made collateral damage in any search for solutions. Indeed, in the midst of this urgency, our search for solutions out of this impasse must be anchored on sacrosanct respect for Citizens, Country and Constitution.

Source: Citizens’ Manifesto