THERE is growing uneasiness with the on-going talks between Zanu PF and the MDC among former PF Zapu members in Matabeleland who fear an agreement will dilute their influence in the region.
The former PF Zapu members, according to sources, fear that they would be shunted aside by the MDC which will use its dominance at the polls to bargain for the leadership of the three Matabeleland provinces.
The Zimbabwe Independent yesterday established that the two factions of the MDC want their members to be appointed governors in the three provinces by virtue of their domination at the polls.
“There is serious apprehension in Matabeleland over the talks and that is the reason why the Zanu PF leadership in Matabeleland has not been coming out in support of the Sadc-led talks,” one Zanu PF source speaking on condition of anonymity said.
“The language that they are using is denigratory of MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai.
“However, their worst fear is that they will lose the positions that have been reserved for them since the signing of the Unity Accord in 1987.”
The source said the PF Zapu leadership in Matabeleland also wanted guarantees that they would get a ministerial quota in cabinet even if they did not win seats in the March 29 elections.
People who have benefited from the unity quota in the past are Vice-President Joseph Msika, John Nkomo, Sikhanyiso Ndlovu, and Sithembiso Nyoni and who have been appointed to cabinet without winning elections.
Governors Sithokozile Mathuthu of Matabeleland North, Cain Mathema of Bulawayo and Angeline Masuku of Matabeleland South have also benefited from presidential appointments.
The sources said the MDC was keen to have its members appointed governors in Matabeleland North and South and in Bulawayo.
President Robert Mugabe was unlikely to appoint any losers from the Matabeleland region as he juggles about who to maintain in his cabinet as he only has five non-constituency senators whom he can appoint.
The sources said Mugabe had limited choices because he still has to appoint Tsvangirai and ArthurMutambara as non-constituency senators to enable him to accommodate them in cabinet.
He also needs to accommodate Msika and trusted lieutenant Patrick Chinamasa who lost his seat in March.
The Matabeleland leadership is divided over the issue of allegiance. Two weeks ago Msika accused politicians in the region of de-campaigning their colleagues.
He further alleged that some politicians were going behind his back straight to Mugabe seeking ministerial positions.
Meanwhile, the decision to confine the on-going talks to the MDC and Zanu PF has irked smaller political parties and civic organisations, who fear any agreement between the two would be similar to the 1987 Unity Accord.
The parties include the United Peopleâ€™s Party (UPP) and the Dawn/Mavambo/Kusile project which have lashed out at what they termed “elitist” talks between the MDC and Zanu PF.
Leaders of the Federal Democratic Union (FDU) and the Progressive Union of Matabeleland (Puma) Paul Siwela and Leonard Nkala respectively, said they were disappointed at the discriminatory nature of the Sadc-brokered talks.
Siwela said the two MDC formations should be wary of being used to endorse the perpetuation of Mugabeâ€™s rule through the talks as happened with PF Zapu in 1987.
Siwela said South African President Thabo Mbeki, the talks mediator, should lead to a process that is inclusive of all political parties.
“In South Africa all political parties were involved in the process of dismantling apartheid and if these talks succeed, it is clear that they will result in a miscarriage of political expediency,” Siwela said.
“The talks will produce a hung-back democracy which shall remain an albatross for this country and a source of discomfort for many years to come.”
He said the problems facing the country were not between Zanu PF and the MDC, but ranged from abuse of human rights, corruption and diplomatic bungling.
“The talks are beyond Zanu PF and the MDC, but are a strategy to maintain some individuals in power,” Nkala said.
“It is the same strategy that was adopted in 1987 to keep and prolong some peopleâ€™s stay in power. The talks will not solve the countryâ€™s problems.”
He said the talks should embrace other political parties, which include UPP, Puma, FDU and Zanu Ndonga.
The party leaders are unanimous that issues to do with killings during the current elections, genocide in Matabeleland, human rights abuses and corruption should form part of the agenda of any talks to chart the countryâ€™s future.
By Loughty Dube