Motlanthe welcomes Zim breakthrough

Friday, February 6, 2009

Parliament - President Kgalema Motlanthe says he is heartened that the Zimbabwean Parliament on Thursday passed Ammendment 19 of the Constitution, laying the basis for the installation of an inclusive government in that country.

The Bill now awaits the signature of President Robert Mugabe to enact into law after 72 senators who were in the House Thursday voted for its passage with no votes cast against it.

The President said South Africa stood ready to assist rebuild neighbouring Zimbabwe.

During his first State of the Nation Address in Parliament on Friday, the President said following the political parties agreeing to form a government of unity, the work of rebuilding of the country's economic and social infrastructure must begin.

"Now the work of reconstruction can start in earnest; and South Africa stands ready to assist wherever we can. In this respect, there is urgent need to assist in dealing with the humanitarian crisis in that country."

He said he was confident that the international community would partner with the people of Zimbabwe as they "blaze out along a new trail".

The Lower House had earlier endorsed the deal which will see the country's main political parties forming a coalition government, expected to be in place by the end of next week.

Under the new legislation, current President of Zimbabwe, Robert Mugabe will retain his seat, while Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction, will be appointed as Prime Minister. Arthur Mutambara of the breakaway MDC faction will become the deputy prime minister.

The swearing in ceremony is expected to be held on 11 February.

President Motlanthe applauded former President Thabo Mbeki and the team that tirelessly and patiently helped to bring the process to a successful conclusion.

He added that the hard won deal had delivered "the ultimate prize that has always been the wish of the people of that country and the sub-continent as a whole: that is, a stable and legitimate government geared to address the challenges that the people face."