Tsvangirai under fire for glossing over unity govt problems

tsvangiraiPrime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is facing criticism from his own party MPs who accuse him of playing down simmering tensions and cracks within the 4 month coalition government. Harrison Mudzuri, the MP for Zaka Central, complained to journalists in Masvingo that the Prime Minister was ignoring violations of the unity deal being perpetrated by ZANU PF. Mudzuri

Our Prime Minister and party leader is just pretending that things are

right in the country when nothing has changed. In fact our members are being harassed and arrested everyday, and when you try to tell the Prime Minister, he will say that such complaints will undermine the inclusive government, Mudzuri claimed. He said party supporters are being beaten up everyday particularly in areas like Zaka. The remarks come in the wake of the jailing of Marange MP Shuah Mudiwa, and insurgency and banditry charges against Roy Bennett and other opposition activists, among other issues.

MDC ministers boycotted a cabinet sitting unilaterally brought forward to Monday. They argued this was an attempt to prevent Tsvangirai from chairing the regular Tuesday meeting since Mugabe was traveling to Libya on the day. Deputy Prime Minister Thokozani Khupe issued a statement on Monday expressing her partys frustration with ZANU PFs attitude. Khupe warned that although they were committed to the unity deal they had a constitutional right to consider disengagement. Her statement seemed to suggest an MDC pull-out from the coalition was imminent.

However, on Tuesday Tsvangirai poured cold water on those threats by telling journalists the MDC would not pull out of the coalition government. There is no pulling out of the agreement. That is why we have to follow-up on our letter to SADC so that they can come and talk over these matters. There is no reason to fear that the government will collapse or that the MDC will pull out of the agreement, he said. Several months ago Tsvangirai made a similar u-turn after his Secretary General Tendai Biti issued a party ultimatum over the outstanding issues. A few days later Tsvangirai told the Financial Times newspaper there was no deadline.

Commentators are haggling over why Tsvangirai has adopted this softly softly approach to dealing with Mugabe. Some MPs in his party are worried the strategy will weaken the partys bargaining power and consolidate Mugabes grip on power. His advisors however argue that confrontation will not produce any results. Tsvangirai told a private meeting of MDC structures in Bulawayo several months ago that he would not adopt mega-phone diplomacy in his dealings with Mugabe.

Meanwhile the state media has continued its onslaught on the Prime Minister and his overseas trip. They maintained that Tsvangirai had failed to get Western countries to remove targeted sanctions placed on the ruling elite and that this was the assignment given to him by Mugabe. The state media was particularly peeved that Finance Minister Tendai Biti received US$950 million in aid from the Chinese. They accused the MDC of hijacking ZANU PFs look east policy after failing to get enough money from Western governments to fund reconstruction efforts.

Despite several complaints from the MDC about this hate speech from the state media, nothing has changed. The Prime Minister has meanwhile defended the publication of a 4-page newsletter from his office saying this was in line with modern technology.

Whats wrong with that? I have a website, these are communication tools. Who is complaining? If there are any complaints, they will be raised in Cabinet and I will respond, he said.

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