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We will definitely join POLAD, says LEAD president Linda Masarira

By HourlyHits Reporter

LEAD president Linda Masarira says her party will definitely join the Political Actors Dialogue (POLAD) because all progressive political players in Zimbabwe must sit at the table with the Head of State and share ideas that help improve livelihoods, bring about electoral reforms and grow the economy.

POLAD was initiated by President Mnangagwa in May 2019 and includes principals who contested in the 2018 presidential elections. President Mnangagwa last Friday invited other political leaders to join the POLAD even if they might not have contested the previous election.

“Yes, given an opportunity to go and sit at the table and share ideas with the Head of State and other leaders to move this nation forward, we will definitely join the POLAD,” Masarira told HOURLYHITS.COM.

The LEAD leader says her party has been pushing the four D’s of development: Devolution of power, Development, Decolonisation of mindsets and Depolarization of the Zimbabwean political environment. As such, she reckons a seat at POLAD will hand her party the platform to play a role in moving the nation forward.

Masarira also wants the POLAD to attend to youth empowerment, gender justice and the historical marginalization of women. She said addressing these issues would ensure access to equal participation in politics and economic activities by women.

“POLAD must push for women empowerment, respect for human rights, security sector reform, rights of the disabled, laws that help curb corruption and laws that speed up the revival of local industries.

“POLAD must also push for labour issues and ensure that civil servants are well resourced and have decent salaries. POLAD must also help eradicate political violence and create an environment that promotes political tolerance and national healing.”

President Mnangagwa on Friday handed over 19 Isuzu D-Max off road vehicles to POLAD principals, causing an outcry among his critics who argued that State resources were being wasted on “capturing” the opposition instead of on pro-poor policies.

Asked what she thought regarding the handing over of vehicles, Masarira said the budget for the vehicles was a matter for the Office of the President and Cabinet to worry about.

She said she prays that POLAD will ensure alignment of the laws of Zimbabwe with the Constitution of Zimbabwe that was adopted in 2013.

She said her party is hinged on the old adage that “United we stand, divided we fall” and there was nothing wrong in working together with progressive leaders for the public good.

According to Masarira, LEAD is also anchored in Pan Africanism and is best placed “to represent the voice of the voiceless on the POLAD table”.

Said Masarira: “We need to revive local industries and POLAD can play a primary role in pushing for that. POLAD also needs a committee that handles labour issues and ensure civil servants in particular are well salaried.”

Asked what POLAD had achieved so far, Masarira admitted she was not the rightful person to answer that question as she hasn’t been a POLAD principal since her party was formed after the 2018 elections.

She however noted that POLAD has already held electoral reforms meetings with the Zimbabwe Elections Support Network (ZESN) and other agencies to push for electoral reforms.

“It can go further and deal with the issue of reparations for victims of political violence as well as building a basis for national healing,” Masarira said.

Masarira’s view of POLAD is in stark contrast to that of another opposition leader, Douglas Mwonzora of the MDC-T, who said he won’t be joining the grouping in its current composition.

“We are not going to POLAD because the POLAD constitutive document defines a political actor as a contestant in the 2018 presidential elections,” Lloyd Damba, Mwonzora’s spokesperson, told Studio 7 Saturday.

“… the document disqualifies Mwonzora from participating in POLAD as he is not a political actor as defined by the constitutive document. The second issue is that even if Mnangagwa resigns today and [Vice President Constantino] Chiwenga or another ZANU PF official takes over, they are also disqualified from participating in POLAD meetings because they did not contest in the 2018 presidential elections.”

Damba added that former MDC-T acting president Thokozani Khupe cannot be part of POLAD anymore even though she contested in the 2018 presidential elections saying the party’s Standing Committee has the final say on whether she returns to POLAD.

Critics of POLAD argue that it is not a body enacted by Parliament and as such, should not benefit from State funding. Others argue that for the nation to move forward, it requires an inclusive dialogue platform that apart from politicians also includes business leaders, youths, church leaders, traditional leaders as well as the civic society. □

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