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ZIMBABWE: Is dialogue possible?

Judging from what the media tell us about the present political developments in Zimbabwe, there seems to be little room for dialogue among the four political parties in the country. And yes, it is not easy – but yes, it is actually possible.

Photo: Egbert Pos (left) from NIMD and Bjørn Førde (DIPD) flanking the Liaison Officers from MDC T, Zanu PF, MDC and MDC Renewal.

Report by Bjørn Førde, DIPD Director

Together with the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, DIPD has in recent years been supporting the efforts of Zimbabwe Institute (ZI) to bring the political parties together at various levels. This is difficult, sensitive and often frustrating work, and it  mostly takes place under the radar screen of the media. This is necessary in order to create the needed level of trust between the individuals involved.

However, the work has also involved more visible activities – like delegations of representatives from all parties travelling to Tanzania and Kenya to learn about the way multiparty dialogue takes place here; delegations of women going to Malawi to meet female participants from other African countries; and several delegations coming to Denmark to participate in the Municipal elections in November 2013.

Events at and following the ruling Zanu PF Congress in December 2014 have made multiparty dialogue even more challenging; and the split of the two MDC parties into three parties have also complicated things. DIPD and NIMD therefore travelled to Harare this week to meet with representatives from all the 4 parties, to assess what is needed to do – and possible to do – under the present circumstances.

Thanks to the contacts of Zimbabwe Institute inside all parties, it has been possible to meet with key decision makers in all parties, and all of them have expressed a wish to continue the dialogue. The Liaison Officers that advise the Secretary Generals of the parties will now start working on activities to be undertaken for the rest of 2015.

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