MDC rejects Mugabe’s ‘talks terms’

Gift Phiri

THE opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has once again rejected President Robert Mugabe’s preconditions for talks to resolve the current crisis.



rdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif”>Reacting to Mugabe’s renewed demand that the MDC should first cut ties with Britain before dialogue can take place, the head of delegation to talks with the ruling Zanu PF, Welshman Ncube, said the opposition flatly rejected that precondition.


“We have said this before and we will say it again, the MDC will not accept any preconditions to dialogue with Zanu PF,” said Ncube.


“Suggesting that we have to cut ties with Britain when it is well known that the MDC is a wholly Zimbabwean outfit is absurd.”


Mugabe last Saturday ruled out talks with MDC, citing the opposition’s alleged ties with Britain.


He told his party’s National Consultative Assembly meeting that the MDC was taking orders from British prime minister Tony Blair.


“We have always told them that we cannot have serious discussions with the MDC as they don’t have any authority to decide,” said Mugabe.


“They still have to report to their masters in Europe. They are just puppets and that is why we have always insisted that if there are any talks that need to be done, they have to be between the British and Zimbabwean governments.”


South African President Thabo Mbeki, who had been trying to bring the two parties to the negotiating table, had promised a political settlement by last month.


This was based on assurances made by Mugabe last year that by June there would be a solution to the Zimbabwe crisis.


Formal talks have failed to resume since the first round collapsed in 2002 when Mugabe demanded the opposition recognise his disputed victory in the presidential poll.


Two weeks ago an MDC team led by Ncube met Mbeki in Pretoria where they discussed the possibility of resuming inter-party talks.


Mbeki and Ncube’s team reviewed the Zimbabwe situation with special emphasis on the political stalemate and the proposed electoral reforms.

Although his policy of “quiet diplomacy” over Zimbabwe has been dismissed as inaudible and ineffective, Mbeki has not changed his approach.


Despite informal meetings between MDC and Zanu PF officials since last year to deliberate on constitutional reforms, no progress has been made.

An initiative by local church leaders last year hit a snag after Zanu PF failed to produce a draft agenda.


The MDC had produced its own agenda and wanted the ruling party to do the same before talks could start.