Tsvangirai Suspends Talks

 

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC yesterday suspended talks with Zanu PF on the allocation of cabinet posts until the facilitator of the unity government, former South African president Thabo Mbeki, intervenes.

Tsvangirai, prime minister-designate in the inclusive government, said apart from Mbeki, Sadc and the African Union (AU) should also come in to resolve the impasse as guarantors of the deal signed on September 15.

 

Speaking to journalists at his Strathaven home in the capital, Tsvangirai said after engaging with Zanu PF at both the negotiators’ and principals’ level, there was a deadlock on the allocation of ministries.

“There has been no progress made on this entire section as ministries can only be negotiated comprehensively and not individually,” Tsvangirai said. “It is not true to say that we are left with two ministries (Finance and Home Affairs) to negotiate as any agreement reached on those two particular ministries would have an effect on the allocation of the rest of the ministries.”

He added: “In this regard we have declared a deadlock and therefore the process cannot move forward except in the presence of the facilitator (Mbeki).”

President Robert Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba claimed on Saturday that there were only two outstanding ministries to be allocated after the 84-year-old leader met with Tsvangirai and the leader of the other formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara.

“The global political agreement we have is guaranteed by Sadc and the African Union and therefore in the event of a dispute or deadlock, as we have now, the matter should be taken to Sadc and the AU in order for them to assist us,” Tsvangirai said. “We have communicated this position to the African Union and to Sadc as well as to the facilitator and have confidence that our African brothers will do everything in their power to ensure that this issue is resolved with speed.”

The MDC leader said Mbeki would soon come to Zimbabwe to mediate the dispute and scoffed at Zanu PF pronouncements that there was no need for the facilitator to intervene.

“There is no need for concurrence of all parties that there is a deadlock and that the facilitator should intervene,” Tsvangirai said. “Once one party says there is a deadlock, the facilitator should come in.”

Efforts to get a comment from Zanu PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa yesterday on the MDC’s suspension of talks were in vain as his mobile phone went unanswered.

Tsvangirai said in the allocation of ministries, the MDC was informed by the desire to ensure a fair power-sharing arrangement that would allow the new government to deal with the current economic crisis and at the same time guarantee basic freedoms and democracy to the people.

Tsvangirai said another outstanding issue was that of provincial governors, which Zanu PF said were not included in the inclusive government deal.

He said: “We have not yet deliberated on the outstanding issue of the allocation of governors. This issue remains outstanding considering that as negotiating parties we agreed that the allocation of governors must be in the spirit of the result of the election on March 29.

“There is still an outstanding issue of omissions made in the signed agreement at the signing ceremony…that had been agreed and initialled by all parties when we signed the original agreement on September 11. We are assured that the facilitator will sort out this problem and provide an updated document to the general public.”

Turning to another issue, Tsvangirai said the MDC had “watched with dismay” the lack of a paradigm shift in Zanu PF.

He alleged that there was continued use of hate speech in the state media, “trumped up charges” against secretary-general Tendai Biti, MPs and members of the party’s structures, and discrimination on the basis of political affiliation in the rural areas.

Tsvangirai said that Local Government minister Ignatious Chombo was interfering with the work of MDC-run councils and was also threatening them.

He said Zanu PF lacked sincerity and commitment to work with the MDC as demonstrated by the government’s failure to issue him with a new passport.

By Constantine Chimakure