Zimbabwe’s President Emmerson Mnangagwa invited opposition leaders to a meeting on Wednesday to draw up terms for a national dialogue, they said, following a brutal crackdown on anti-government protests.

More than 20 politicians who contested July’s presidential election were invited, two of whom – Lovemore Madhuku and Noah Manyika – said they would attend. It would be the first meeting between Mnangagwa and opponents since he took power from Robert Mugabe in November 2017.

Manyika however said he believed conditions were not yet right for meaningful dialogue, which could only happen if hundreds of people detained during the crackdown were released and soldiers withdrawn from streets and checkpoints.

“It can only take place if, as the president promised upon his return from his overseas trip, the heads of those who have been responsible for brutalising citizens roll,” Manyika said.

On Tuesday, a nationwide strike by public sector teachers for better pay got off to a patchy start, as some stayed at home while others attended school but did not teach amid fears of further intimidation.

The president hiked fuel costs by 150 percent last month and immediately travelled abroad, triggering unrest that drew a violent response from security forces and eventually persuaded him to cut short his foreign tour.

On his return home, Mnangagwa promised action against brutality by police and troops and called for a national dialogue.

There was no immediate comment on Tuesday’s invitation from Mnangagwa or his spokesman.

Nelson Chamisa, who heads the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change party and who counts Manyika among his allies, could not be reached for comment.

The MDC believes Zimbabwe is reverting to the authoritarian rule that characterised the regime of long-time leader Mugabe, and says the election that confirmed Mnangagwa as president in July was rigged, an allegation the judiciary rejected.

Source : Africanews

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