New Pressure For Unity Govt

SOUTH African facilitators in Zimbabwe’s political dialogue this week resumed their push for the formation of an inclusive government to tackle the country’s deteriorating humanitarian and political crisis.

The facilitators, among them South Africa’s director of the presidency Frank Chikane and former local government minister Sydney Mufamadi, met on Wednesday with the leader of the smaller faction of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, and were today scheduled to hold talks with negotiators from Zanu PF and the MDC-Tsvangirai.

Diplomatic sources said the facilitators were in the capital to impress upon Zanu PF and the two MDC formations the need to quickly form a new unity government outlined under a September 15 power-sharing deal brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

But hopes of a quick blueprint for a unity government were dashed yesterday after MDC-Tsvangirai accused Zanu PF of “killing” the power-sharing negotiations through the state’s alleged acts of abductions of civil society and opposition activists.

Sources said the facilitators wanted the immediate gazetting of Constitutional Amendment 19 Bill the political protagonists agreed on in South Africa a fortnight ago.

The Bill gives legal effect to the power-sharing pact that would see Morgan Tsvangirai becoming prime minister and Mutambara one of his two deputies. The other deputy would come from the MDC-Tsvangirai.

The government is yet to gazette the Bill after the MDC-Tsvangirai threatened not to support the amendment in parliament if what it calls outstanding issues of the pact were not resolved.

Among the sticking issues, according to the MDC-T, were the allocations of ministerial portfolios, the appointment of provincial governors and the constitution and composition of the National Security Council, among others.

Mutambara confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that he had met the facilitators and told them that the inclusive government should be formed immediately to deal with the humanitarian crisis in Zimbabwe.
“I told them that Amendment No19 should be gazetted immediately so that we can work on addressing the worsening humanitarian crisis in the country,” Mutambara said. “We can only deal with the cholera crisis, the political crisis, the hunger crisis if we have an inclusive framework.”

The robotics professor said he also told the facilitators that the call by the international community and other African leaders to oust Mugabe was misplaced.

“The call by the international community for Mugabe to leave is stupid. How is he going to leave and under what law? Who is going to replace him? We need an inclusive government. A government that will craft a people-driven democratic constitution that will create room for free and fair elections. Once that is done then Mugabe can go.”

Zanu PF chief negotiator Patrick Chinamasa yesterday said he could not comment on the latest mission of the facilitators because he had been out of Harare. He referred questions to Labour minister Nicholas Goche who was not reachable on his mobile phone.

Earlier this week, Information minister Sikhanyiso Ndlovu told the state media that the facilitators were due in Zimbabwe on Wednesday.

The inclusive government is seen as the only avenue for Zimbabwe to extricate itself from a decade-long political crisis that has now been compounded by the outbreak of cholera that has claimed at least 600 lives. The situation is made worse by food shortages affecting over five million Zimbabweans.

The government has since declared cholera a national disaster and appealed for global assistance.

BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE