Motlanthe confident Zim govt of unity will work

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Addis Ababa - President Kgalema Motlanthe is confident that the establishment of a government of national unity in Zimbabwe will be a success, saying that initially the inclusive government would aim to stabilise the political and economic situation in that country.

Briefing media at the12th African Union (AU) Heads of State and Government Summit early on Wednesday morning, the President said the establishment of an inclusive government would allow for all political parties to work together and shape conducive conditions to holding elections.

"I am confident that the parties are working to a timetable set down by the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders at a summit last week, which called for the formation of the unity government by 13 February."

Regarding the country holding elections before the end of the five year period, the Mr Motlanthe said it depended on how well the inclusive government worked.

"If the inclusive government would want to call for an early election ... that would be a matter that rest with the people of Zimbabwe."

Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe told his fellow African leaders on Tuesday that he was committed to forming a national unity government with the opposition, but his rivals said talks to fine-tune a power-sharing deal have not taken place.

During the AU Summit, Mr Mugabe said Zimbabwe was on the path to forming an all-inclusive government, as advised by African leaders in July. "This development is in line with our past record and current aspiration of building a nation that is anchored on the principle of justice, equality and neutrality."

Mr Mugabe has also agreed to allow a top-level United Nations (UN) team to enter Zimbabwe to explore ways to end the humanitarian crisis there and find out what aid is most needed.

During a press conference held on the sidelines of the AU Summit on Sunday, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said President Mugabe had assured him that he and his country would be fully open to humanitarian work and activities.

"I have urged President Mugabe to build up on this new development and try to make progress as soon as possible so that they can ensure full democracy and freedom," he said.

Mr Ban said the humanitarian situation in Zimbabwe, "which has reached an almost unbearable point for the people, has been a source of deep concern for the international community".

He warned that a mere agreement would not be enough to resolve Zimbabwe's crisis. "For the union government to work the Zimbabwe government will have to release political prisoners and end human rights abuses.

"I urge them to fully protect the human rights of the Zimbabwean people and release all prisoners who have been arrested over the last few months."

Mr Ban had earlier described the agreements as the first step towards full democracy, but urged that there was still a long way to go.