Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Zimbabwe News Bulletin: SADC Presses Opposition to Sign Deal

Sadc presses Tsvangirai to sign deal

By Mabasa Sasa
Zimbabwe Herald

SADC Heads of State and Government have endorsed the agreement between President Mugabe and Arthur Mutambara as a good basis for the formation of an inclusive Government and urged Morgan Tsvangirai to sign it.

At an extraordinary summit of the Sadc Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Co-ordination under the chairmanship of Swaziland’s King Mswati III held on the sidelines of the Sadc summit in South Africa at the weekend, regional leaders exerted pressure on Tsvangirai to put pen to paper and sign the agreement.

They also said Zimbabwe’s Parliament should be convened very soon and this would pave the way for President Mugabe to form a new Government with the signatories to the agreement.

Last week, Cde Mugabe and Mutambara reached an agreement on the formation of an all-inclusive Government while Tsvangirai refused to sign at the last minute for the third time in as many weeks.

According to the record of the extraordinary summit held on Friday and Saturday shown to The Herald, leaders "expressed strong opinion that documents as contained in the facilitator’s report reflect the framework, spirit and purpose of the African Union resolution" passed at the continental body’s summit in Egypt in June, calling for an all-inclusive Government.

"In view of that," the report reads, "they are a good basis for an agreement."

Sadc leaders "encouraged and appealed to the parties to sign any outstanding agreements and conclude the negotiations as a matter of urgency to restore political stability in Zimbabwe".

Since Tsvangirai is the only one yet to put pen to paper, the resolution is a direct call for the MDC-T leader to accept the same agreement that President Mugabe and Mutambara have endorsed.

On the issue of Parliament, Sadc leaders said they "recognised that while negotiations are continuing, it may be necessary to convene Parliament soon to give effect to the will of the people as expressed in the parliamentary elections held on 29 March 2008".

The resolution came on the back of reports from insiders privy to the discussions held by the organ with Zimbabwe’s political leaders indicating that Tsvangirai was demanding executive powers to hire and fire ministers and to chair Cabinet in any new Government.

The insiders said Mutambara and his secretary-general Welshman Ncube had vigorously opposed this, saying the will of the people as reflected in the elections was not for a transfer of power to Tsvangirai but for power to be shared among the different parties.

The two are said to have argued that Tsvangirai was seeking to humiliate President Mugabe and though they too were in the opposition, they could not accept it as the Zimbabwean leader was a liberation hero and an African icon.

"We set out to unseat President Mugabe in the elections and we failed. That is the reality. We will certainly try and unseat him in the next election but as things stand right now, Tsvangirai’s demands are unacceptable and we should not tolerate them.

"Our first prize is that there should be a tripartite agreement involving all three parties. If that fails, we must sit down and map a way forward with our national council. We want summit to pass a resolution that the document that we agreed on with President Mugabe is a reasonable basis for the formation of an inclusive Government.

"Summit should appeal to anyone who does not want to sign it to reconsider. We need Parliament to sit. In short, we want a clear signal from summit that the present situation is untenable," Mutambara and Ncube reportedly said.

In an earlier address to an informal session of the summit, Tsvangirai had told Sadc leaders that he would accept nothing short of executive powers and that he was Zimbabwe’s legitimate leader on the basis of the House of Assembly elections.

He said he wanted the power so that he could deliver on his election promises to the electorate.

However, Angola’s President Eduardo dos Santos, who also attacked Tsvangirai for lying to regional leaders on Friday, asked why Tsvangirai was not also looking at the Senate election results that had given Zanu-PF a clear majority in both Houses of Parliament.

"President dos Santos," the insiders said, "told Tsvangirai that he could deliver on his election promises as a member of Cabinet."

It is believed that President Mugabe will proceed to convene Parliament soon and form a new Government on the basis of the agreement with Mutambara that was endorsed by the Sadc leadership.

President Mugabe reiterated to the Organ on Defence, Politics and Security Co-ordination that he was still prepared to talk to Tsvangirai but the country had to move on with its economic recovery programmes and could not wait any longer.

Yesterday, Zanu-PF information and publicity sub-committee chair Cde Patrick Chinamasa said the negotiations would continue under President Mbeki’s facilitation.

Newsnet quoted him saying: "It is our expectation as Zanu-PF that a deal will be concluded in the fullness of time so that we can put behind us the divisions, conflict, the polarisation that, in fact, has divided our country."

On the issue of Parliament, Cde Chinamasa, who is Zanu-PF’s chief negotiator at the talks, said: "They (the MPs) were elected for five years and already five months of that is gone without performing the functions of their office.

"Sooner or later Parliament must convene, MPs must be sworn in and we carry on with the business of running the country."

Tsvangirai: Stop taking us for a ride

EDITOR — I would like to extend my heartfelt thanks to our brother and fellow Pan-Africanist, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, for the work he has done to bring Zimbabwe’s political leaders together.

President Mbeki is indeed a man of integrity and if only we had 10 more dedicated leaders like him across the continent, then the African Renaissance that he enunciated some years ago would have been achieved.

As our own President, Cde Mugabe, recently said, the South African leader is truly a man of patience.

President Mbeki has spent countless hours working to help us with our political challenges and every sane person should appreciate the time and resources he has dedicated to assisting a neighbour.

He also has his own country to run and to take so much of his time without hearing a word of complaint from him speaks volumes about the kind of man he is.

It is, therefore, heartening to read that the political leadership of Zanu-PF and MDC-Mutambara has reached an agreement.

My main problem is that Morgan Tsvangirai seems reluctant to sign the agreement and I believe that this is utterly disgraceful.

Tsvangirai should realise that President Mbeki has no obligation to facilitate the Zimbabwean opposition’s accommodation in any Government.

He is only doing so because he is a man of goodwill and integrity.

As such, Tsvangirai should be ashamed of himself for wasting President Mbeki’s time and should review his behaviour.

He is taking President Mbeki for granted and that is totally unacceptable.

Furthermore, he is leading the whole of Zimbabwe up the garden path because we had all pinned our hopes on the talks being concluded speedily and satisfactorily.

In addition, he is taking the Southern Africa Development Community as a grouping of fools because it is the body which mandated President Mbeki to mediate in Zimbabwe.

The African Union too is being treated as insignificant and Tsvangirai’s insult goes right up to the international community where countries like China and Russia have stood by Zimbabwe.

This is a real slap in the face and Tsvangirai should be warned that the world will not tolerate his antics for much longer.

Professor Mucha.
East London,
South Africa.

MDC-T leader must have Zim at heart

THE leadership of the three main political parties has been engaged in dialogue over the past three-and-a-half weeks and groundbreaking agreements were struck in many seemingly divergent areas.

We salute the representatives and principals for the maturity shown thus far, and for the tradeoffs and compromises made.

That is what Zimbabwe needs right now, the setting-aside of sectarian interests for the common good.

We, however, do not lose sight of the fact that the inter-party talks did not begin after June 27. They began last year as part of the build-up to the historic harmonised elections of March 29, culminating in Constitution of Zimbabwe Amendment (No. 18) Act.

As such, the parties have been talking for more than a year; and it is time the talk gave way to action in light of the enormity of the challenges to be overcome.

It is high time the legislative arm of Government was sworn in to pave way for the swearing-in of a new Cabinet to execute the requisite executive functions.

It is in light of the time taken at the table, and the tradeoffs thus far made, that we feel the remaining item on the agenda — the sharing of power between President Mugabe and would-be-premier Morgan Tsvangirai — can be expeditiously solved particularly as the issue appears clear-cut.

President Mugabe was retained in office on the back of a nation-wide election in which he won a popular mandate, from which he derives executive powers to govern.

Tsvangirai did not get such powers as he came second best; hence, the only powers he can exercise are ascriptive, deriving from delegation by the President who appoints him.

It is not constitutionally feasible for an appointee to usurp the powers of the one who appoints without going for an election.

This is why Tsvangirai must come to his senses and realise that there are limits to the compromises that can be made, and the patience the other parties can extend to him.

As the facilitator to the dialogue, President Thabo Mbeki rightly hinted, the Seventh Parliament may have to be convened, and a Cabinet put in place while negotiations continue.

We, however, hope that Tsvangirai realises that he is not indispensable.

It is within President Mugabe’s power to swear in Parliament and set up an inclusive Cabinet without him.

And life will go on.

It, however, does not have to come to that. All Tsvangirai needs to do is realise that a solution imposed from outside can never work, as President Mbeki rightly observed.

It is high time he shut out the other voices; listened to his constituency here and acted in their best interests.

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