Mugabe has no right to limit GNU term –– PM

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has said President Robert Mugabe has no powers to determine the lifespan of the inclusive government without consulting other political principals.

The premier was responding to Mugabe’s statement last week that Zimbabweans will go for elections by mid next year because he cannot extend the inclusive government lifespan by more than six months.
According to Constitutional Amendment No 19, the inclusive government would be reviewed after the writing of a new constitution, but it does not give the lifespan of the pact.
Tsvangirai told his supporters in Mabvuku on Tuesday that Mugabe had no right to limit the term of the inclusive government which was formed as a result of the sham June 2008 presidential election run-off.
He said MDC-T was solid and ready for elections to end the pact with Mugabe’s Zanu PF and the MDC led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.
The three principals formed a coalition government in February last year, but it has been shaky with Tsvangirai and Mugabe clashing on several occasions and the MDC-T leader blaming Mugabe of flouting the Global Political Agreement (GPA).
“All what Mugabe did in the inclusive government, appointing governors, judges and ambassadors is illegal and unconstitutional. They say I don’t understand because I am not a lawyer, but I know what is right or wrong,” Tsvangirai said.
The MDC-T leader said Mugabe had failed to share executive power, forcing his party to demand an end to the inclusive government, which he said was forced on the country by Sadc.
Tsvangirai said the MDC-T wanted Sadc, the African Union and international observers as well as peacekeepers before the elections to allow for a conducive environment.
The MDC-T claims that Mugabe unleashed a wave of violence during the June 2008 presidential election run-off which left 200 of its supporters dead while thousands were injured.
He said his party told Sadc facilitator, South African President Jacob Zuma, that he was prepared for elections if Mugabe wants the polls.
“We will use the regional and international powers to make sure elections are free and fair,” he said. “There should be Sadc and international peacekeepers before the elections. We also want a new voters’ roll before we go for the elections.”
However, presidential spokesperson George Charamba said the lifespan of the inclusive government was determined by the GPA, which he pointed out ends in February 2011.
On elections and international observers, Charamba said: “The more there are disagreements, the more elections are attractive. Elections will settle the problems. Dysfunctionality of the inclusive government simply invites or is asking for an early election.
“Sadc as observers is not a new thing. All elections have been observed by Sadc –– we signed the Sadc protocol adjusting the Electoral Act, which meet the expectations of Sadc.”
Charamba added that: “If a state takes an antagonistic stance against another state, you can’t expect that state to suddenly emerge as an observer. Britain, America and the EU are contestants in an election in Zimbabwe, which disqualifies them as observers. We have made enough concessions. This is now a hard-knuckled phase of Zimbabwean politics. ”
Last week, Zuma sent his facilitation team to Harare after Mugabe unilaterally re-appointed Zanu PF provincial governors without the consent of other principals. Tsvangirai launched a fierce attack on Mugabe’s appointments, which he said were “nonsensical and illegal”. He appealed to South Africa, the United Nations and European Union to ignore diplomatic appointments made by Mugabe since 2008.
The premier said an independent electoral commission should be appointed to implement critical reforms and criticised the “partisan” Zimbabwe Electoral Commission (ZEC) which is headed by Zanu PF allies.
Apart from MDC-T, the Mutambara-led MDC and civil society are lobbying for electoral reforms before fresh elections, but Mugabe seems determined to go for polls with or without the reforms.
Charamba said the reforms, which include the electoral reforms agreed by the negotiators,  would be put in place before the elections mid next year.
“These are false arguments because these (the implementation of reforms) are predicated on a cooperation stance. Wasn’t Constitution Amendment No 19 done in one afternoon –– as a matter of fact in seconds –– because it was agreed that none of the parties should oppose the amendments,” he said.
Tsvangirai said he would push for justice in the rural areas where war veterans’ leader Jabulani Sibanda is reportedly terrorising political opponents.
In an interview this week, MDC-T spokesman Nelson Chamisa said it was not surprising that Mugabe was pushing for elections due to his frustrations of failing to manipulate Tsvangirai and his top aides.
“Our relationship with Zanu PF in the inclusive government is now like oil and water. We can’t be the same,” he said.
Chamisa said the political environment could be free once international and Sadc observers are deployed six months prior to the elections.
Meanwhile, MDC-T sources said the party was auditing structures in Matabeleland North, South, Midlands and Bulawayo to fill gaps that were left vacant following the 2005 split.
The sources said the restructuring exercise was aimed at strengthening the grassroots level of the party ahead of a possible congress next year.
MDC-T organising secretary Elias Mudzuri confirmed that he had embarked on a restructuring exercise to strengthen the party.
“We are on a countrywide restructuring programme where we are putting in new structures while strengthening old ones. It’s an ongoing exercise which we are not sure when we will complete,” he said.

Brian Chitemba/Faith Zaba