MDC fed up with Zanu politricks Cabinet change the last straw

mdc_ministers_boycotHARARE - Despite claims by Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai that things are running smoothly between his MDC party and Robert Mugabes Zanu (PF), more cracks emerged on Monday exposing serious divisions. MDC Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe issued a blistering statement explaining why her party boycotted a Cabinet meeting, which had bee

Cabinet meetings are usually held on Tuesdays, but Robert Mugabe brought this weeks meeting forward to Monday because he is leaving for an African Union Summit in Libya on Tuesday.

Khupe said in a statement: This morning, we were advised that Cabinet had been shifted from its mandated day of Tuesday to Monday at 10am. Innocent and innocuous as this decision may be, the fact of the matter is that it underpins everything wrong about the present agreement. The decision seeks to deny the recognition of the Prime Minister as chair of Cabinet when the President is away.

She said the decision by Mugabe reflected, unilateralism, disrespect, contempt and a refusal to recognise reality and the letter and spirit of the GPA and that her party will not attend an informal unilateral meeting.

An MDC insider said: Last week Tsvangirai was told that Mugabe was not going to be in the country. He was informed that Mugabe wanted him to chair the Tuesday cabinet meeting. Tsvangirai declined as all the major players including (Joice) Mujuru were not going to be available. Some Ministers are travelling with Mugabe to the AU summit; others are meeting him at the summit from the East. So this meant the Prime Minister was going to chair a Cabinet meeting with just MDC Ministers. Mugabe’s offering was strategic as he knew nothing of significance would be discussed or actioned without the other main characters.

It is understood that Mugabe moved the meeting to 10am on Monday, in spite of the fact that the Prime Minister was only arriving in Zimbabwe at 12:30. This resulted in MDC-T Ministers boycotting the meeting altogether, fed up with Zanu (PF)s politricks. Journalist Angus Shaw said MDC-T Ministers were visibly angry at a press conference held by Khupe announcing the boycott. It is widely believed that this was also a deliberate ploy by Mugabe to obstruct Tsvangirai from chairing his first Cabinet meeting since the formation of the unity government. Sources say the MDC had no alternative but to boycott and that the conviction of the Mutare West MP Shuah Mudiwa had been the last straw.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, various MDC officials told SW Radio there was a strong group within the MDC-T that was getting restless, rejecting what is seen as the strategy of appeasement by others in the party.

Another disgruntled MDC official said: We are too caught up in the inclusive mantra to our own hurt. The Prime Minister had to place a coalition, which included Zanu (PF) ministers, to tour western countries but there was no single MDC-T minister included in the team that was dispatched to the East.

Tsvangirai returned to Zimbabwe on Monday with around $200m in aid after a marathon three week re-engagement tour of western countries. But that is far short of the $8bn the country needs to rebuild the shattered economy. Western countries have refused to give full developmental aid to Zimbabwe until there are proper democratic reforms.

Zanu (PF) sent its own delegation to the East in search of financial aid last week. It was led by Defence Minister Emerson Mnangagwa and the Zanu (PF) Womens League chairperson, Oppah Muchinguri.

Because of the cabinet boycott all the MDC-T cabinet Ministers went to meet Tsvangirai at his home in Harare instead. They complained about the continued arrests and harassment of party members and civic activists and the lack of movement in the implementation of the global political agreement.

Khupes statement pointed out that Zanu (PF) was unwilling to resolve the unfinished issues of the inclusive government. These include the appointment of ambassadors, the Reserve Bank Governor, the Attorney General, the Provincial Governors, and the swearing in of Roy Bennett as deputy Minister of Agriculture.

She added: Further evidence of the lack of a paradigm shift, is the deliberate refusal to convene the National Security council. The National Security Council became law in February 2009 and demands that the Security Council meets once every month. Four months later, it has not met, simply because a few elite securocrats who do not recognise the authority of the new order.

Furthermore, the quest for a new constitution is exposing major differences in ideologies between the parties in this fragile partnership. The MDC is accusing Zanu (PF) of trying to impose the controversial Kariba draft constitution, contrary to the provisions of the GPA. But Zanu (PF) is adamant that it is this document, which was crafted by the three main political parties, that will be used as a reference point.

Khupe also said that media reforms remained aborted and that there was no movement on key legislation on fundamental issues such as the promotion of freedom of speech, assembly and expression.

She said while her party remained fundamentally committed to the GPA: It is our constitutional right to consider disengagement. SW Radio Africa

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