MDC-T Demands Joint Forces Control

 

THE Morgan Tsvangirai-led MDC is now demanding that the police, army and Central Intelligence Organisation (CIO) be placed under the effective control of parties to the inclusive government agreement after the security apparatus has of late been used to target MDC members and human rights activists.

 

This comes amid reports from South Africa — where the MDC-T is holding a strategic meeting — that the party was seriously contemplating a walk-out of the power-sharing talks if outstanding issues arising from the September 15 2008 pact were not immediately resolved.

President Robert Mugabe, Tsvangirai and the leader of the smaller formation of the MDC, Arthur Mutambara, last September agreed to form a power-sharing government, sparking hope Zimbabwe could finally emerge from a decade-long crisis.

But the agreement brokered by former South African President Thabo Mbeki immediately stalled with Mugabe and Tsvangirai haggling over control of key ministries.

In a letter to Sadc chairperson and also South African president, Kgalema Motlanthe, Tsvangirai accused the police, CIO and army of undermining the implementation of the global political agreement.

He said in other countries that have undergone transition, security organs were the first to appreciate the need for change of direction.

“This has not been the case in Zimbabwe,” Tsvangirai wrote on December 29. “Given the fact that our national institutions (police, CIO, army) have been selectively used to target MDC and other activists it is only imperative that these security apparatus be placed under the effective control of parties to the agreement. In effect, the CIO as well as elements of the army such as military intelligence have become actively involved in undermining this agreement.”

Under the disputed allocation of ministerial portfolios, Mugabe was to take charge of the army and the CIO and co-manage the police under the Ministry of Home Affairs with Tsvangirai.

Tsvangirai’s letter came after Mugabe last month invited him to return home from his self-imposed exile in Botswana and be sworn in as prime minister, but the MDC leader spurned the offer and insisted he would not join the unity government until the dispute over ministerial posts had been resolved.

The opposition leader also wrote to Mugabe on December 28 last year complaining about the actions of state security organs.

“In view of past and recent events where our members have been subjected to abductions and torture by the state security organs (police, CIO and army), it is imperative that these institutions be controlled by all parties to the agreement,” Tsvangirai told Mugabe. “Of particular concern is the role of the security apparatus in actively undermining the agreement. We have therefore lost the little confidence and trust in you being solely in charge of any security apparatus.”

 
He said the construction and composition of the National Security Council was of utmost significance to his party.

“Legislation regarding the operations, control and funding of the security services by the National Security Council has to be enacted prior to the formation of the inclusive government,” Tsvangirai told Mugabe.

In the letter to Motlanthe, Tsvangirai complained that Mugabe and Zanu PF had committed with impunity a number of breaches, which undermined confidence in the formation of the unity government.

He cited the abductions and torture of his party activists and individuals from civil society and  “fabricated allegations of banditry training” against the MDC-T as some of the breaches of the all-inclusive deal.

Tsvangirai said ministerial portfolios remained inequitably allocated and that Mugabe had unilaterally appointed provincial governors, central bank governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana and that there was still no agreement on the constitutive composition of the National Security Council.

Tsvangirai said: “In giving legislative effect to the global political agreement, the 19th (Constitutional) Amendment redefines the roles and powers of the president, prime minister and cabinet when they discharge their executive authority.

“Cde President, I believe you have previously correctly stated that: ‘Both President-designate Mugabe and Prime Minister-designate Tsvangirai need to be sworn in to give effect to their positions, otherwise no one derives any legitimacy without it’.

 “I therefore find the letter by Mr Mugabe in reference to my appointment to be both unprocedural and prejudicial to the relationship between the president and prime minister.”

Tsvangirai suggested that the only way forward to save the unity government deal would be for Motlanthe to convene a confidential meeting between him and Mugabe.

Motlanthe, the opposition leader said, should be the mediator because the MDC-T’s relationship with Mbeki has “irretrievably broken down”.

“In view of the foregoing, I respectfully submit that the only way forward, given the divergent views of approach to the formation of the inclusive government, would be to convene a confidential meeting in South Africa between Mr Mugabe and myself under your chairmanship in order to hammer out all the outstanding issues before parliament can discuss and pass the 19th Amendment which will form the legal authority of the global political agreement,” Tsvangirai wrote.

Mugabe has since said he would appoint a new cabinet by the end of next month and already met Mutambara and deliberated on the formation of a new government.

Mutambara reportedly told Mugabe that his party would not be party to a government which did not include Tsvangirai.

Meanwhile, reports from Johannesburg confirm that the MDC has been meeting since Wednesday to decide whether to continue with power-sharing negotiations with Mugabe.

Sources in the party said Tsvangirai was under increasing pressure to abandon the talks and press for fresh presidential elections under international supervision.

BY CONSTANTINE CHIMAKURE