Tsvangirai announces partial withdrawal from unity govt

Monday, October 19, 2009

Harare - Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has announced that ministers from his party will no longer participate in Cabinet and Council of Ministers meetings until all outstanding issues in the Global Political Agreement are resolved.

Tsvangirai said that President Robert Mugabe's Zanu-PF party had proved that it was an unreliable partner in the inclusive government.

The party will inform the Southern African Development Community (SADC) about the latest move, he said.

The MDC will therefore no longer attend meetings scheduled for every Monday with Mugabe, and Tsvangirai's trip to Sweden this week to attend the European Development Day has been cancelled.

It is not yet clear how the work of government will proceed with some cabinet members staying away from meetings and without any collective decisions being made.

Tsvangirai said it was time for the MDC to assert itself as the dominant party in Zimbabwe, declaring that it was the only one with the people's mandate to remain in government.

"For that reason, this party for now cannot renege on the people's mandate. However, it is our right to disengage from a dishonest and unreliable partner.

"In this regard, while being government, we shall forthwith disengage from Zanu-PF and in particular from Cabinet and the Council of Ministers until such time as confidence and respect is restored among us," he announced.

He said this would include the full resolution of all outstanding issues and the substantial implementation of the GPA.

"We are aware of the constitutional implications of our decision, in light of the foundational element of the transitional government that executive power is shared between the President, the Prime Minister and Cabinet.

"However, it is a constitutional crisis which should be resolved if Zanu-PF and its leadership know that there is a price to pay for procrastination.

"Naturally, should this constitutional crisis escalate, then the self-evident solution would be the holding of a free and fair election to be conducted by SADC, the African Union and under United Nations supervision," he said.

He noted, however, that the elections could only be held after a referendum on a new constitution is held.

Tsvangirai referred to the non-appointment of provincial governors from the political parties other than Zanu-PF, the appointments of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana; the refusal by Mugabe to swear in MDC treasurer Roy Bennett as Deputy Agriculture Minister; the non-review of the GPA by SADC after six months from the formation of the government; the unilateral changing of ministerial mandates by Mugabe; the alleged militarization of the countryside and imposition of 16 000 Zanu-PF youths on the government payroll as some of the reasons for the partial pullout.

His party was also not happy with the "selective application of the rule of law", and the detention of Bennett on terrorism charges. Tsvangirai said Bennett was not being prosecuted, but persecuted.

He added that while the National Security Council was supposed to meet regularly, it had sat only once since the formation of the inclusive government in February, yet the Joint Operations Command (which has the same composition of members outside politicians) met regularly.

Tsvangirai also accused the state media of reporting in a partisan manner and denigrating other members of the inclusive government who were not Zanu-PF.

He added that his party would not leave the government because the hopes and aspirations of many Zimbabweans were pinned on it staying on.

"We are conscious of our responsibility to deliver change to the people. We are conscious of the hopes and aspirations of the people."