Although Tsvangirai denied calling for a wholesale lifting of sanctions at a caucus meeting for MPs from his party on Wednesday, some legislators at the meeting told the Zimbabwe Independent that his message was not very clear as they are still confused over the party’s position on sanctions.
They said it was critical for the party to come up with a clear position on sanctions and fresh elections because the top leadership has been issuing conflicting views on the issues.
Reports in the state media quoting Tsvangirai calling for the immediate lifting of sanctions against the country left the MDC-T MPs bewildered.
They were hoping that the premier would spell out the party position so that they are able to debate in parliament a motion adopted this week urging Tsvangirai and his deputy Arthur Mutambara to call for the removal of sanctions imposed on Mugabe, his family and close political allies.
“Everyone was confused about whether to debate the motion or not,” one MP said. “However, he did not give a clear clarification when he was asked about his statement in the Herald. Instead, President Tsvangirai asked us kuti (that) since when did people suddenly start believing what they read in the Herald?
“He did not respond adequately. It is still very confusing. My observation is that the right hand does not know what the left is doing. I am still confused even after Tsvangirai’s presentation.”
Tsvangirai was quoted in the Herald after meeting visiting Danish Minister for Development Co-operation Soren Pind in Harare saying: “Well, the issue of sanctions debate is a very contentious one in Zimbabwe.
We want all sanctions removed. If you want to support the people of Zimbabwe, you have to support the coalition government.”
While Zanu PF MPs hailed Tsvangirai for what they described as a “shift” in policy, MDC-T legislators did not want to debate the motion.
The sources said they were told by the leadership through its chief whip Innocent Gonese not to contribute to the debate on the motion moved by Mwenezi East MP Kudakwashe Bhasikiti on the sanctions.
As the Zanu PF legislators praised Tsvangirai for the call, the US President Barrack Obama joined the European Union in extending the sanctions for another year.
In a message to congress on Monday, Obama said: “I am continuing for one year the national emergency with respect to the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions.
“The crisis constituted by the actions and policies of certain members of the government of Zimbabwe and other persons to undermine Zimbabwe’s democratic processes or institutions has not been resolved.”
The MDC-T sources said Tsvangirai told them that he did not have powers to remove sanctions.
“We have to stick to what is in the GPA (global political agreement). He told us that they should (West) look at the positives as well. He said Zanu PF also has to sort itself out because farm invasions are still ongoing, there are new cases of violence and the indigenisation laws don’t help us, adding that all these impact negatively on the removal of sanctions,” said one source.
“The leadership must come out clearly on what the position is. Up to now, personally I still don’t know what the position is. We should have a clear position, which we need to agree at the national council level.”
Tsvangirai has in the past been calling for a partial lifting of sanctions that affect ordinary Zimbabweans.
The sources said Tsvangirai repeated his statement that fresh elections should be held as early as April next year.
They said he did not however talk about what type of elections the country should hold — whether they should be just presidential or harmonised.
While Tsvangirai is agreeing to “park” and “proceed” with regard to outstanding issues following his talks with President Zuma in Davos, MDC-T spokesperson Nelson Chamisa has said the party position was that a new constitution must come first, followed by the creation of an environment that will guarantee security of the people, freedom to campaign, and media and electoral reforms before Zimbabwe can hold elections that are credible, free and fair.
Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution-making process co-chairperson Munyaradzi Paul Mangwana has said the earliest that Zimbabwe could have a constitution is May 31 2011 because of the seven-month delay in the process.
Chamisa was not reachable for comment at the time of going to press last night.