PPOSITION MDC leader Nelson Chamisa has, in a no-holds-barred interview with international media, accused his political nemesis President Emmerson Mnangagwa of being out of touch with reality and misleading the world about the state of the country.

Chamisa on Monday told French broadcaster, France 24, that unless there is sincere, honest political dialogue between the two parties, the country’s crisis would take long to end.

“Clearly, what Mr Mnangagwa is saying is an indication of how out of touch with the reality of what is happening in the country, he has chosen to institutionalise deceiving the world, deceiving the people and deceiving himself,” Chamisa said.

This came after Mnangagwa recently told the same news agency that Chamisa, with backing of some foreign agencies, triggered last month’s countrywide protests as part of their regime change agenda.

But Chamisa dismissed the allegations.

“Those are accusations by misplaced appreciation of the facts in Zimbabwe. We are very clear, we do not subscribe to violence,” he said.

The MDC leader said the crisis in Zimbabwe was caused by poor leadership, theft of elections and increase of fuel prices by over 150%.

“The clarity, when we have looked at this issue, is that the problem in Zimbabwe, which we have seen, is occasioned by the deficits and omissions by government, particularly the price hikes of fuel by 150%, which was instituted by Mr Mnangagwa, is what then triggered action by citizens in a non-violent manner. Of course, we had incidents of violence, which we condemned, which we do not subscribe to,” Chamisa said.

The government has in the past few weeks arrested over 1 000 suspects, among them MDC legislators and civil society leaders in connection with last month’s skirmishes. Chamisa said he was shocked that Mnangagwa’s government was after the MDC when even the State-linked Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission had produced a report condemning government’s heavy handedness in quelling the unrest.

“Why Mr Mnangagwa chooses to look at the MDC and picks on the MDC baffles the mind. We are not working with any foreign power. We are not working with any international organisation. If anything, the struggle for change in Zimbabwe, the struggle of freedom and democracy is underwritten by the people of Zimbabwe without the support of anyone, but of course, we welcome the solidarity of the international community and the people of the world who feel that the people of Zimbabwe need total freedom and total change,” he said.

Turning to the socio-economic problems, which the MDC has said are underpinned by the contestation around the July 30 2018 general elections, Chamisa called on Mnangagwa to stop blaming him and instead solve the crisis.

“Great leaders are supposed to solve problems not explain problems. Mr Mnangagwa is explaining the problems, he is not solving the problems. This is why we have said come to your senses, come to the party and let us reason together and let us resolve the problem affecting Zimbabwe, instead of finger-pointing,” he said.

The opposition leader also demanded an investigation into the extrajudicial killings of 17 people last month to ensure that those who pulled the trigger are brought to book.

Mnangagwa has since demanded evidence, including names of the 17 people killed during the violent protests accusing instead, non-governmental organisations and the MDC of stage-managing the deaths, torture and allegations of rape against the police and army.

Chamisa said Mnangagwa had unwittingly let the cat out of the bag when, in Mwenezi, he publicly acknowledged that he had unleased the military on the people and demanded that he takes responsibility for the killings and violence against unarmed civilians.

“If he is claiming to be in charge of the affairs of the State, he must also account for the affairs, developments and actions of the State. We have 17 people whose names are known, if there is a genuine desire to get to the bottom of this matter, let there be an investigation. That investigation has not be called for … to hold the people to account, including himself, because what happened was extra constitutional, it’s not allowed – the taking away of life, even if people turn violent, there are ways of dealing with violent people,” he said.

Chamisa noted that even former President Robert Mugabe, who himself was accused of severe repression during his time in power, has strongly criticised Mnangagwa’s crackdown. The opposition leader called Mugabe’s remarks “confirmation” that the current president had “crossed the line”.

Chamisa said he was ready “anytime” for “a credible and genuine” dialogue with Mnangagwa, but insisted that it should be done through international mediation, citing South
Africa, the inter-governmental Sadc or the African Union as “ideal” go-betweens.

This comes as State media yesterday reported that Zimbabwe had, alongside Kenya, Liberia and Rwanda, been considered as “largest improvers” on the continent in the last 10 years despite a worsening social and political fabric in the country.

On Saturday last week, Mnangagwa vowed to track down human rights doctors and lawyers, who treated the injured and represented them in courts respectively.NEWSDAY