Zimbabwe opposition rejects decision of regional body SADC

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By Peter Clottey

Washington, D.C. 10 November 2008 - Zimbabwe's main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) says calls by the Southern African Development Community (SADC) for a compromise with the ruling party in forming a unity government is an exercise in futility. This comes after a SADC summit Sunday in Johannesburg called on President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF and the opposition MDC to share the disputed Home Affairs ministry. The regional body also urged both parties to immediately form a unity government to resolve the country's economic and political crisis. But opposition MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai said he was shocked and saddened by the SADC decision.

George Mkwananzi is a Zimbabwean political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from South Africa's capital, Pretoria that the SADC decision amounts to what he called baptizing the devil in President Mugabe.

"Morgan Tsvangirai is making quite a legitimate demand that it has to be a 50-50 sharing power. That is the reason why it is called an inclusive government; there has to be a 50-50 sharing of power. And the call by SADC leaders to say that Morgan Tsvangirai should be prepared to allow these things to go on is like barking at the wrong tree. The person that they have to direct all their anger and energy to is Robert Mugabe who is basically the one who is the stumbling block to this power sharing deal," Mkwananzi pointed out.

He said the regional body should flex its muscle to force the ruling ZANU-PF party led by President Mugabe to totally abide by the power-sharing agreement it signed with the opposition.

"As long as SADC cannot summon enough courage to face Mugabe and tell him the truth and push him towards a meaningful sharing of power with Morgan Tsvangirai, I don't see this thing culminating in a reasonable conclusion because they (SADC) are expecting Morgan Tsvangirai to concede more and more ground to Robert Mugabe, which is very unfair. It is actually a wrong precedent it is a coalition with the devil and they should summon enough courage and tell the person who is on the wrong, in this case Robert Mugabe that he should release those ministerial positions to Morgan Tsvangirai so that we have a meaningful sharing of power," he said.

Mkwananzi said Zimbabweans unanimously voted for the opposition MDC to form a new government.

"The mandate of the people of Zimbabwe as reflected in the previous election was that they would like to have an MDC government. That democratic decision of the people of Zimbabwe was locked by Robert Mugabe and for the African leaders (SADC) to endorse somebody who stood in the way of democracy is really unacceptable and it sets a wrong precedent in Africa," Mkwananzi noted.

He said there as need for all the ministries to be critically looked at and equally shared between the ruling ZANU-PF party and the opposition.

"I honestly believe that when they are dealing with this power sharing deal, they should look at each ministry. Ministries can be categorized under the military and others and they should be looking at each of those groups and say now I've got this and now you can have this in this category and then they move on to the next category. But if they continue to say the problem is with the Home Affairs ministry or finance or what when they have not released the full text of the level of agreement and consensus on the other ministries, they would not be moving forward. They would be lying to each other and they would be baptizing the devil," he said.

Earlier Sunday, main opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai asked the summit to set a deadline for a deal on forming a cabinet. Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, appeared optimistic that an agreement could be reached but Tsvangirai warned of regional instability if the ruling party refused to loosen what he called its illegitimate grip on power.

Tsvangirai said, "This issue of co-sharing does not work. We have said so ourselves, we have rejected it, and that's the position. There is no agreement to co-sharing, to rotation, to swapping of ministries." He however added that he was committed to power-sharing the opposition signed with President Robert Mugabe's ruling ZANU-PF party.