ZANU PF backtracking on unity govt: MDC


HARARE - Zimbabwe's opposition on Tuesday accused the ruling ZANU PF party of backtracking on the formation of a new unity government and delaying negotiations on outstanding issues that must be resolved before an inclusive administr

The Morgan Tsvangirai-led Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party said ZANU PF negotiators Patrick Chinamasa and Nicholas Goche yesterday declined to meet their counterparts from the opposition to consider a National Security Council Bill and the allocation of provincial governorships among the three parties to the power-sharing agreement.

The opposition said in statement that Chinamasa and Goche had said they had no mandate from their principal, President Robert Mugabe, to enter negotiations on the outstanding issues and had to wait for his return from the African Union Summit in Ethiopia.

The ZANU PF negotiators were yesterday due to meet their counterparts in MDC-T, Tendai Biti and Elton Mangoma, and those from the smaller formation of the MDC – Welshman Ncube and Priscilla Misihairabwi-Mushonga to iron the contentious issues

The MDC negotiators flew to South Africa yesterday where they were informed that ZANU PF would not be able to attend the meeting because Chinamasa and Goche – who did not travel to Pretoria – were yet to consult Mugabe.

The Southern African Development Community (SADC) last week directed Zimbabwe's rival political parties to urgently form a unity government, ordering that outstanding issues be dealt with between the parties negotiators before a unity government is put in place by February 13.

The MDC-T, whose leader Tsvangirai will become prime minister in the unity government, last Friday resolved to be part to the government once outstanding issues were resolved.

"We in the MDC are convinced that there is no intention on the part of ZANU PF to put all these issues to rest. There is no wish to consummate an inclusive government in line with SADC resolutions," the MDC-T information department said in a statement.

"There is no wish to alleviate the suffering of the people of Zimbabwe through a negotiated political process. In short, there is no wish to tackle the outstanding issues as directed by the SADC."

The MDC-T, which under the power-sharing deal will also get one of the two positions of deputy prime minister with the other slot going to the smaller MDC formation, said ZANU PF had not expected it to agree to join the unity government and was now in panic mode.

"It has been caught flat-footed. ZANU PF never budgeted that the MDC would agree to be part of the inclusive government and now they are in sixes and sevens while trying desperately to scuttle the deal," the MDC-T said.

"For the record, the contentious issue of governors was supposed to be dealt with last Tuesday in South Africa. But the ZANU PF negotiators said their tickets did not allow them to stay a day longer and they returned with their principal to Zimbabwe."

The following day, the opposition said, nothing happened after ZANU PF said they were preparing for the presentation of the country’s national budget on Thursday.

"On Thursday, preliminary but inconclusive discussions took place before the ZANU PF negotiators said discussions should break to enable o them to attend the budget presentation, which ZANU PF again unilaterally resented against the spirit of the inclusive government," the MDC-T claimed.

The MDC-T said: "ZANU PF is spoiling to scuttle the inclusive government which SADC directed should be in place by 13 February 2009. We are ready to clear all outstanding issues so that we collectively confront the challenges facing the people of Zimbabwe. ZANU PF is not.

We are ready to tackle cholera, unemployment and the collapse of basic services such as education and health. ZANU PF is not."

Chinamasa and Goche yesterday declined to comment on the matter besides saying that ZANU PF was committed to the formation of the inclusive government.

A unity government is expected to help ease the political crisis and allow the country to focus on tackling an unprecedented economic and humanitarian crisis marked by hyperinflation, acute shortages of food and basic commodities, amid a cholera epidemic that has killed more than 3 000 Zimbabweans since August.

But there has been lukewarm response from Western governments whose financial support is critical to any programme to revive Zimbabwe's comatose economy.

The United States and Britain, who are Zimbabwe's biggest donors, have said they will adopt a wait-and-see attitude to the unity government, with UK Africa minister Mark Malloch-Brown saying yesterday that London would maintain sanctions against Mugabe and his top lieutenants.

Malloch-Brown told the BBC Britain was sceptical about the new coalition government in Zimbabwe but believed it should be given assistance to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the country.

The UK government would continue to give such support but would not lift sanctions on Mugabe and his top officials until it was convinced there were committed to power-sharing and democratic change. – ZimOnline

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