ZIMBABWEâ€™S two main political parites â€” Zanu PF and the Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC â€” have chosen positions they will pursue in the event that the inter-party talks collapse.
Impeccable sources in Zanu PF and MDC told the Zimbabwe Independent that both parties were losing faith in the stalled negotiations and have come up with alternative plans.
The MDC, the sources said, would mobilise diplomatic pressure starting next week to coerce President Robert Mugabe to cede power. The party also wants Mugabe and his government to be further isolated by the international community.
On the other hand, Mugabe and Zanu PF would go it alone and appoint a new cabinet.
The Sadc-facilitated power-sharing talks stalled over how to share executive power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
“We are going to mobilise some of our neighbours in the region, several key African governments and major international powers to intensify pressure on Mugabe to cede real power to Tsvangirai,” a member of the MDC national executive said.
“Tsvangirai is losing faith in the current talks and wants regional and international pressure to be mounted on Mugabe and Zanu PF. We want a situation where Mugabe and his government will be barred from participating in regional, continental and international groupings and foras.”
The source said Tsvangirai began his diplomatic offensive immediately after Sadc heads of government and state summit in Johannesburg, South Africa, a fortnight ago when he visited Botswana and Kenya.
The next leg of his campaign will see Tsvangirai and his delegation visiting key countries in West Africa, among them Nigeria, Ghana, Senegal and Kenya.
The sources said Tsvangirai would also lobby the United Nations to deal with the Zimbabwe crisis.
“Our belief is that concerted pressure by African leaders and other international players could still force Mugabe to be more flexible in power-sharing negotiations than he has been so far,” the source added.
Another source said Tsvangirai was likely to lobby the United States, Britain and their European allies after they declared that any power-sharing deal in Zimbabwe should reflect the “will of the people” as expressed in the March 29 presidential election.
Tsvangirai outpolled Mugabe, but did not garner the mandatory votes to assume the presidency, prompting a presidential election run-off on June 27.
The opposition leader withdrew from the run-off citing state-sponsored political violence. Mugabe won by 85% in the one-man race, which was widely condemned as a sham.
Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesperson, declined to confirm or deny that the party had embarked on a diplomatic campaign, but insisted they remained committed to the talks as long as their outcome respects the “will of the people”.
South African president Thabo Mbeki is mediating in the talks on behalf of Sadc.
“We will be lobbying in the region, the continent and the United Nations to exert pressure on Mugabe for him to be more flexible,” another source said. “Mugabe must be made to respect the will of the people of Zimbabwe.”
Mugabe on Wednesday threatened to appoint a new cabinet if Tsvangirai refused to sign the proposed inclusive government deal by yesterday.
The octogenarian leader told journalists in Lusaka, Zambia, where he had gone to attend the burial of President Levy Mwanawasa, that Tsvangirai was being instructed by Britain not to sign the pact.
Mugabe was quoted saying: “We are a government, and we are a government that is empowered by elections. So we should form a cabinet. We will not allow a situation where we will not have a cabinet forever.”
Sources in Zanu PF said Mugabe was under pressure from hardliners in his party who want him to pull out of the talks for personal interests.
The sources said some of the hardliners saw themselves out of jobs if an inclusive government was constituted, while members of the Joint Operations Command were concerned about their future after they allegedly coordinated and executed Mugabeâ€™s bloody run-off campaign.
On threats by Mugabe to go it alone, Tsvangirai said his party would not be “bothered”.
In an interview with a South Africa radio station, the former trade unionist said such a cabinet would be dysfunctional.
“If there is no national or international confidence in that cabinet, what will he do with it? I think it will be a risky business on his part,” Tsvangirai said.
Tsvangirai said the MDC would have liked more pressure from the African Union and Sadc to solve the problem.
“There was a time when African leaders thought they can manage the problem, because they were protecting Robert Mugabe. Now we have reached a stage where Mugabe now is part of the problem,” the former Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions secretary-general said.
The talks between Zanu PF and MDC stalled over how to share executive power between Mugabe and Tsvangirai.
Under the Mbeki proposed deal, Mugabe would remain executive president in charge of both state and government.
Tsvangirai would be a prime minister in charge of government policy, but without power to hire or fire ministers. He would also not chair cabinet meetings.
The opposition leader, who under the proposed deal would be required to report regularly to Mugabe, refused to sign the deal saying he could not be a prime minister without executive power.
By Constantine Chimakure