Has the US left Chamisa out in the cold?


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Harvard professor Deepak Malhotra says that a saying that has made the rounds in diplomatic and political circles goes: “If you’re not at the table, you’re on the menu”.

Writing in his book: Negotiating the impossible, Malhotra says, you are the appetizer, main course and the desert.

A wise strategy is to stay at the table, he argues, at least figuratively, if not physically, even when there is no visible prospect for a deal.

For 18 months now Movement for Democratic Change leader Nelson Chamisa has refused to sit at the table with his main rival President Emmerson Mnangagwa. His argument is that he won the 2018 presidential elections.

A lot of his supporters agree with him but the blunder he made was to go to court. When he lost, he should have accepted the court’s verdict, namely that Mnangagwa was the winner.

To continue to argue that Mnangagwa is illegitimate, having lost the case in court, bearing in mind that Chamisa is an officer of that court, simply implies that Chamisa and the MDC have no respect for the rule of law.

This has definitely upset a lot of his western symphathisers and they slowly seem to be losing their patience with him as the 2023 elections, now 40 or so months away, approach.

To make matters worse, Chamisa does not have enough numbers in the legislature to make any meaningful changes as he concentrated on his own battle ignoring the fact that what was needed most was a strong legislature to stop the ruling party from making foolish decisions like tampering with the country’s constitution.

Now the United States, which has for nearly two decades kept a rein on the Zimbabwe African National Union-Patriotic Front, seems fed up with lack of progress in Zimbabwe.

It has decided to talk to leaders of the smaller opposition parties who have entered into dialogue with Mnangagwa.

The US embassy in Harare said it held talks with members of the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) on Monday and looks “forward to continuing engagement on issues of development, good governance, and economic stability for Zimbabwe”.

Only one opposition party in POLAD is represented in Parliament and by a single legislator in each House. Simply put, the US embassy is either talking to itself by engaging POLAD or is talking to ZANU-PF through POLAD.

It is only ZANU-PF that can address issues of development and good governance. The US itself has a key role in bringing about economic stability.

If the US can use POLAD to address these three key issues, where does this leave Chamisa?

Is he now on the menu?

Only time will tell. But it looks like Chamisa has now reached his sell-by date. He has to change tact.

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Charles Rukuni
The Insider is a political and business bulletin about Zimbabwe, edited by Charles Rukuni. Founded in 1990, it was a printed 12-page subscription only newsletter until 2003 when Zimbabwe's hyper-inflation made it impossible to continue printing.

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