MDC leadership to meet for crucial indaba

JOHANNESBURG – There are reports that the top leadership of the MDC, including its transition team and party strategists, will meet in Johannesburg for three days this week to decide whether to continue or back-off from talks to join a unity government.\r\n

MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who is now in South Africa, is assembling his standing committee that includes his deputy, Thokozani Khupe, Tendai Biti the secretary-general and party chairman Lovemore Moyo. Tsvangirai has been holed up in Botswana for close to two months but travelled to Johannesburg at the end of last year.

Others expected at the meeting include Elias Mudzuri the organising secretary, national spokesman Nelson Chamisa and the chairpersons of the Women’s assembly and Youth league Theresa Makone and Thamsanqa Mahlangu. The indaba in Johannesburg is expected to run from Wednesday to Friday.

A highly placed source told us the consensus among the top leadership of the party was that Robert Mugabe has not made enough concessions for the MDC to join an inclusive government under the Global Political Agreement signed last year.

‘The MDC needs additional concessions from ZANU PF. Until Mugabe complies with Tsvangirai’s demands, I dont think you will see an inclusive government soon,’ our source said.

Other sources said the MDC has whittled down its demands to just four, from about eight last year. One of the remaining issues is for the regime to legally define the composition of the National Security Council which will replace the Joint Operations Command (JOC), made up of the country military and security commanders, all Mugabe henchmen.

The MDC also insists the issue of ministerial portfolios is still up for negotiation, as they do not recognise the unilateral grabbing of all top ministries by Mugabe. Thirdly, the MDC want the issue of governors to be resolved as they want officials from their party to fill some of these posts. Mugabe violated the GPA when he appointed all 10 governors from ZANU PF. The MDC contends that five governors should be appointed from their party, while four should come from ZANU PF and one from the MDC formation led by Arthur Mutambara. During the 29th March elections, the MDC swept to victory in five provinces, ZANU PF won in four and the Mutambara MDC won the Matebeleland South province.

Then lastly the MDC is demanding that all detained political activists be released or charged in a court of law. But only 30 of the 42 people believed held in police custody have been produced in court, on trumped up charges. Many of them have been in custody for months after they were abducted by state security agents for allegedly training and aiding MDC activists in Botswana.

Tsvangirai has meanwhile urged South African President Kgalema Motlanthe, currently chairman of SADC, to call for a meeting between Mugabe and himself to iron out some of the remaining issues.

The MDC wants Motlanthe to expand his role in the stalled power-sharing process and take over from Thabo Mbeki, the former South African President, as mediator.

Already Tsvangirai has sought Motlanthe’s intervention to restart negotiations, ahead of the proposed two day SADC summit on Zimbabwe next week in Johannesburg. Motlanthe announced just before the end of last year that he would convene a full SADC summit from January 13-15 to try and push all sides in Zimbabwe to form a unity government. Source: SW Radio Africa Zimbabwe news