MDC considering pulling out of deal

HARARE – Pressure is mounting on the Movement for Democratic Change to pull out of Zimbabwe's power-sharing deal unless the Southern African Development Community manages to persuade Robert Mugabe to soften his stance on the allocation of ministries.

MDC leader and prime minister-designate Morgan Tsvangirai and Mugabe have, on three different occasions, failed to come to an agreement – with Mugabe said to be demanding all 15 top ministries. Now senior MDC officials are considering pulling out of the power-sharing deal.

Mugabe’s chief spokesperson, George Charamba, said on Saturday that disagreements were left on only two ministries – home affairs and finance. But MDC spokesperson Nelson Chamisa insisted that the principals had not yet agreed on all the ministries.

‘We are not even sure when the principals will meet again’

"That’s being dishonest on the part of Charamba to claim that the dispute remains on two ministries. Nothing has been agreed on and we are dis- appointed because people are dying of hunger. People need a new government so that we stop this suffering.

"As far as we are concerned, internal consultations are continuing, but there are disagreements all over. If consultations locally fail, we will have no option but go to the SADC, which is a guarantor of the power-sharing deal.

"We are not even sure when the principals will meet again, but certainly it has to be early because the people can’t wait any longer. Actually, we are now not sure if they will meet, or whether the concerned parties will just decide to go the SADC way," said Chamisa.

Mugabe is said to be under pressure from Zanu-PF hardliners not to give any top ministries – especially home affairs – to the MDC, as this would allow the MDC to have Zanu-PF members arrested.

With Mugabe not moving an inch, sources said, the MDC is likely to call for an emergency party meeting this week, where they will deliberate whether to stay in the deal.

A highly placed source said consultations were already proceeding over a national council meeting.

"There is growing pressure from within the party that we must pull out and let Mugabe continue running the country until elections are held.

But these elections have to be run by an organisation like the African Union or SADC, and monitored by international observers.

"People are saying this is no longer power-sharing when Mugabe is demanding everything. But the party will give SADC a chance and, if they fail, pulling out will be the only option left," said the official.

Chamisa said the MDC had not yet reached the stage of pulling out.

"We are still hopeful that domestic consultations will help resolve the deadlock. If that fails, surely the SADC would be able to resolve the differences," he said.

The deadlock has meant that Zimbabwe’s government has yet to turn its attention to the nation’s crisis.

The mission head of a large relief organisation says the situation could get worse. While political violence has abated, he says, more and more victims of Zanu-PF’s post-election crackdown are emerging from hiding to seek treatment. – IOL