Cabinet impasse forces Zim parliament to suspend business

HARARE - Zimbabwe's Parliament has suspended sitting because it would be futile for the House to sit when there is no government, in yet another example of deepening paralysis in the country following a power-sharing deadlock.

Social Amenities Minister and acting leader of the House of Assembly Emmerson Mnangagwa said the lower chamber would adjourn until November 11 but said it could be recalled much earlier, in the event certain measures are put in place.

He was referring to the formation of a unity government under a September 15 power-sharing agreement that has however stalled because President Robert Mugabe and opposition MDC party leader Morgan Tsvangirai cannot agree on how to share key Cabinet posts.

Because of the constraints relating to the non-existence of the inclusive government, the House will not be sitting for a while, Mnangagwa told the House on Wednesday. In the event measures are out in place, we may be able to call for the sitting of the House at a much earlier date.

The Parliament was elected on March 29 but did not convene until August as the country had to hold a presidential run-off election on June 27 and also because of the need to give chance to power-sharing talks that were only concluded with last month’s deal.

The key House of Assembly, which is for the first time dominated by the opposition after Mugabe’s ruling ZANU PF party lost the March poll, had sat for only seven days before adjourning on Wednesday, clearly unable to function in the absence of government.

The Southern African Development Community’s security Troika holds a summit in Harare next Monday to try to end the deadlock between Mugabe and Tsvangirai over control of the most powerful Cabinet posts in the unity government.

On Monday, Tsvangirai refused to travel to a regional summit in Swaziland to discuss the Cabinet deadlock, insisting the government should issue him with a passport. The meeting had to be postponed to October 27 in Harare but Tsvangirai has indicated he will still not attend should Mugabe’s government insist on not giving him a passport.

Meanwhile legislators from all parties called on Wednesday for urgent action to mobilise food aid as many families across the country are said to have run out of food and are surviving on wild fruits or just a single meal a day.

This motion is neither MDC nor ZANU PF, but it is supported by both parties. We agree on this issue that the people who are hungry are Zimbabweans, said ZANU PF chief whip Joram Gumbo, supporting the motion moved by MDC legislator for Makoni West constituency, Webber Chinyadza.

Analysts see a power-sharing government as the first step to ending decade-long food shortages and economic crisis in Zimbabwe. – ZimOnline

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