By Nkosana Dlamini
President Emmerson Mnangagwa and MDC Alliance leader Nelson Chamisa are set for a chance meeting when the political rivals mix and mingle with other invited foreign dignitaries after Zambian President-Elect Hakainde Hichilema dispenses with formalities associated with his inauguration in Lusaka this Tuesday.
Hichilema, who won the Zambian poll with a comfortable 59 percent margin, will be inaugurated at a stadium event set to be physically witnessed by thousands.
After the main event, the new leader and his guests are expected to be chauffeured to a glitzy get together for high profiles where protocol will be relaxed to allow guests to mix and exchange pleasantries.
It is there that Mnangagwa and Chamisa could finally bump into each other as both elbow their way through bodies to exchange greetings with the rest.
There have been failed attempts by the Zimbabwe Catholic Bishops Conference (ZCBC) and South Africa’s governing ANC to bring the country’s two most influential political figures together under an abortive national dialogue process which sought to remedy the dire national crisis.
President Mnangagwa has insisted on meeting Chamisa under the auspices of his unpopular Political Actors Dialogue (Polad) forum while the opposition leader sought a bilateral engagement with the incumbent.
Chamisa insisted the national leader should dump his less influential hangers-on if he was keen on a more serious engagement with the opposition while Mnangagwa was adamant his opposite number did not deserve any treatment different from those he already accorded to other Polad politicians.
As late as Monday, Mnangagwa and Chamisa showed all and sundry they were not yet ready to surrender their rivalry when they took separate flights to the Zambian capital.
It has finally taken the new Zambian leader’s poll victory for the Zimbabwean leaders to – for once – breath the same air and most probably toast to the same event.
However, apart from the symbolic significance of what could be feigned tolerance between the rivals, not much could be expected from Mnangagwa and Chamisa by way of future engagement as the two are already rolling their sleeves for another bruising contest due 2023.