Polls: Fierce clashes rock inclusive govt

DIVISIONS have rocked the inclusive government over the lobby by MDC-T for an extraordinary Sadc summit on Zimbabwe ahead of watershed elections expected mid this year as tensions rise in the aftermath of a suspected arson attack which led to the death of a 12-year old boy, Christpowers Maisiri of Headlands in Manicaland.

Report by Owen Gagare

Following the boy’s death, cabinet ministers from the two MDC formations clashed in two consecutive sessions with their Zanu PF counterparts whom they accused of orchestrating political violence.

President Robert Mugabe’s spokesman George Charamba yesterday confirmed the Christpowers issue was again discussed in cabinet this week.

“It was talked about in two cabinet sittings in a row, so there was no need for principals to discuss it further because they are also part of cabinet,” he said asked if principals had also tackled it.

Sources said Vice-President Joice Mujuru was particularly scathing in her attacks on MDC-T ministers, claiming they behaved as if they were the only ones who had ever lost loved one in such tragic circumstances.

They say Mujuru told cabinet she had lost her husband, former army commander General Solomon Mujuru, under similarly tragic circumstances two years ago but did not use the incident to gain political mileage.

Ministers clashed in cabinet last week on Tuesday over the same issue. A day after that, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai dispatched his party’s secretary for international relations Jameson Timba to brief Sadc leaders and diplomats on the deteriorating security situation in the country.

Timba showed them pictures of the boy’s burnt remains and a dossier containing 120 incidents of violence against MDC-T officials and supporters this year while lobbying regional leaders for an extraordinary regional summit focusing on Zimbabwe ahead of elections.

Zanu PF, which has denied responsibility over Christpowers’ death, has however been angered by the diplomatic offensive which views it as an attempt by the MDC-T to internationalise domestic issues.

A seething Mugabe told his supporters during his 89th birthday party in Bindura on Saturday that if MDC-T had issues, it should have engaged its coalition government partners instead of rushing to “report to Britain and America”.

He also accused the MDC-T of politicising deaths by blaming Zanu PF even when the causes were natural.

Charamba said MDC-T was desperately using Christpowers’ death to play politics but warned their Sadc bid was doomed to fail.

“They are clutching at straws because they have nothing to offer,” said Charamba. “The MDC wants to naturalise the involvement of foreigners in the internal affairs of the country, even by calling for international investigators.” he said.

Charamba said although Christpowers’ death was discussed in cabinet this week government principals did not tackle the matter in their meetings.

The MDC formation led by Welshman Ncube has been on the same side with MDC-T in cabinet and also compiled a dossier on violence targeted at its officials and supporters.

MDC spokesperson Nhlanhla Dube, however, said his party was not so fixated with the extraordinary summit but wanted Sadc resolutions, agreed issues in the Global Political Agreement and the election roadmap implemented before polls.

The divisions and tensions in the inclusive government are also being fuelled by statements uttered by government officials in public.
MDC-T secretary-general Tendai Biti told mourners during Christpowers’ burial last week that Zanu PF secretary for administration Didymus Mutasa was responsible for the boy’s death.

Christpowers’ father Shepherd Maisiri is the MDC-T deputy organising secretary for Headlands and aspiring legislator for Makoni North, a seat currently held by Mutasa.

Mutasa and Zanu PF have, however, pleaded their innocence and accused the MDC-T of politicising the tragic incident –– an argument supported by the police, who have ruled out foul play saying their investigations had revealed the fire that gutted the house Christpowers was sleeping in was likely to have been caused by a paraffin lamp.

MDC-T has rejected the police findings and called for international investigators to be called in to ascertain the cause of the fire.
When the matter came up for discussion in cabinet again this week Zanu PF stuck to its guns, accusing the MDC-T formation of seeking to gain political mileage both within and outside the country by capitalising on the boy’s death.

However, the MDC formations are adamant that Christpowers’ death should be viewed as a warning that Zimbabwe may plunge into the same levels of violence seen during the 2008 presidential election run-off which resulted in scores of people being killed.