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Tsvangirai confronts Mugabe over violence

Faith Zaba

 

PRIME Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Wednesday confronted President Robert Mugabe over politically-motivated violence and intimidation allegedly being perpetrated by Zanu PF and other issues affecting the shaky inclusive government.

The issue of intimidation and violence that has flared up in Harare’s high density suburbs since Zanu PF launched its 2011 election campaign across the country code-named “Operation ngatizivane” took centre stage when the two met at Zimbabwe House.

 

Other issues discussed included the unresolved civil servants’ salaries, diamond sales and the controversy surrounding the swearing-in of Professor Welshman Ncube as the new deputy prime minister.

Tsvangirai’s spokesperson Luke Tamborinyoka yesterday confirmed to the Zimbabwe Independent that the two principals met.

“Indeed, the meeting took place at Zimbabwe House and the issue of violence took centre stage,” Tamborinyoka said without giving more details on what the two agreed on concerning the various issues raised.

“The Prime Minister is seriously concerned with the violence that is taking place,” he said.

However, sources close to the two principals told the Independent yesterday that Mugabe and Tsvangirai agreed to task the two co-Home Affairs ministers, Theresa Makone and Kembo Mohadi, to come up with a report with full details on the violence which broke out in Mbare, Budiriro, Chitungwiza and Epworth two weeks ago.

“The co-Home Affairs ministers have been told to come up with proper details that show what exactly is happening on the ground to give to the principals,” said one top government official.

In Mbare, Zanu PF and MDC-T youths have been fighting each other for two weeks now and this has resulted in the destruction of offices belonging to Tsvangirai’s party and a house belonging to MDC-T councillor Paul Gorekore.

A number of people have been injured, while property and houses have been destroyed.

What has irked the MDC-T the most is the alleged selective application of the law by the police. While MDC-T youths have been arrested, suspected Zanu PF supporters have gone scot free.

On Monday a mob of Zanu PF supporters chanting party slogans, flying the party flag and singing revolutionary songs attacked MDC-T supporters in Mbare and on Wednesday another group tried to besiege Town House, but they were stopped by anti-riot police. In Epworth, suspected Zanu PF war veterans and youths have threatened to evict residents suspected of being MDC supporters this month.

Government sources said Tsvangirai on Wednesday sought more information from Mugabe on the third sale of Chiadzwa diamonds

which the president said was done recently.

Mugabe told Zimbabweans living in Addis Ababa at the weekend that civil servants would soon get a salary increase after Mbada Diamonds said it would pay a large dividend to government, part of which should go towards improving their salaries.

“The Minister of Mines (Obert Mpofu) was telling me four days ago that there had been a third sale of diamonds and they are going to give … I think it’s Mbada, a large sum to Treasury,” he said.

Mugabe also revealed that three other companies, in addition to the two already on the ground, would be licensed to mine diamonds in Chiadzwa and government would evaluate their performance.

A top government official said: “The Prime Minister took Mugabe to task on the recent diamond sale and his statement that salaries would be increased despite Finance minister Tendai Biti’s assertions that government had no money and not enough money from the diamond sales was going to the fiscus.
“Tsvangirai wanted to know when the third sale of diamonds was done and where and how much was raised. He also wanted to know why the sale was done privately without the knowledge of treasury.”

The official said the issue was not resolved and it was agreed that the matter be brought before Cabinet at its first meeting on Tuesday next week for further debate.

“Debate will take place at cabinet and the Finance minister has a few questions of his own. The whole thing is murky and opaque. Now we don’t even know which companies, who, where and when the concessions for the companies to mine at Chiadzwa were done,” he said.

Civil servants threatened to go on strike after receiving their January payslips showing minimal salary increases of as low as US$10 to an average US$168 monthly salary. Civil servants wanted a US$500 basic salary, but negotiations for a further increment stalled after they were told that there won’t be further movements as the government was cash-strapped.

The sources said the two principals touched on the Ncube and deputy premier Arthur Mutambara saga.

The newly elected MDC president, Ncube, who is supposed to take over from Mutambara who was re-assigned to the Ministry of Regional Integration, wants to be sworn-in as deputy premier.

However, Mugabe is insisting that the issue had legal problems and he could only swear-in Ncube as deputy premier after Mutambara resigns of his own accord.

An MDC standing committee meeting last month resolved to appoint Ncube as the new DPM, Mutambara to be re-assigned as the minister of regional integration and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga as the Minister of Industry and Commerce.

Mutambara’s supporters are currently challenging Ncube’s election as the president of the party at the High Court.

Mugabe’s spokesperson George Charamba has indicated Mugabe cannot swear-in Ncube because his election was being disputed.

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