Zanu PF in-fighting threatening unity government

JOHANNESBURG – The Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai and President Kgalema Motlanthe held secret emergency talks on Wednesday to try to overcome new obstacles to Zimbabwe's troubled power-sharing deal, amid reports of Robert Mugabe facing resistence from his henchmen and unconfirmed assasination attempts on Zanu PF key negotiator Patrick Chinamasa.\r\n

Tsvangirai rushed to Cape Town to meet Motlanthe after the MDC threatened to pull out of the unity government deal because of what it called Zanu-PF’s continuing bad faith.

Zanu-PF negotiators last week failed to attend talks to resolve two major outstanding issues that Tsvangirai wanted addressed before he being sworn into office by February 11.

President Robert Mugabe had agreed to these urgent talks at the Southern African Development Community (SADC) summit in Pretoria last week.

Motlanthe and Tsvangirai’s talks were described as ‘strictly private’

Motlanthe and Tsvangirai’s talks were described as "strictly private" and no-one was willing to go on record about them.

Zanu-PF’s tardiness in coming to negotiations has set back the timetable for the establishment of a unity government which the SADC leaders set last week.

Constitutional amendment 19 to create the post of Prime Minister for Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister for Arthur Mutambara, leader of a smaller MDC party, was supposed to be adopted by Thursday but has now been postponed to next week to give negotiators time to resolve the outstanding issues.

This seems likely also to delay the swearing in of Tsvangirai and Mutambara beyond the scheduled date of February 11 and the launch of the unity government by February 13.

The SADC leaders also ordered the Zimbabwean parties to distribute provincial governorships more fairly among themselves and to agree on legislation to establish a new national security council by today.

‘The success or failure of such a government will depend on credible and inclusive power sharing’

These two matters have not been resolved because Zanu-PF’s negotiators said they did not have a mandate for negotiating because Mugabe had been at the AU summit in Addis Ababa. It is believed that there is a new wave of resistence from within Robert Mugabe’s party. Remaining members of Zapu who are still in Zanu PF, are threatening to quit the party if Governors appointment in Matebeleland are withdrawn and they have sympathisers among the top brass.

Yesterday they finally showed up in Johannesburg for negotiations with their MDC counterparts which were still on yesterday evening.

Zanu-PF has also hinted that it does not wish to discuss the immediate re-distribution of the governorships – now all held by ZanuPF officials – but only when vacancies arise. This infuriated Tsvangirai and prompted him to seek Motlanthe’s help.

Meanwhile the US government has declared that it will only lift targeted sanctions against Mugabe and his officials and support the new unity government with development aid "when we have seen evidence of true power sharing as well as inclusive and effective governance."

"The success or failure of such a government will depend on credible and inclusive power sharing by Robert Mugabe and his Zanu-PF party," said spokesman Robert Wood.

"The international community must remain engaged and continue to scrutinize actions by Mr Mugabe to ensure adherence to the letter and spirit of this agreement, including respect for human rights and the rule of law.

"We urge SADC to fulfill its obligation to guarantee that Mr Mugabe proceeds on a new path toward reconciliation and genuine partnership with the MDC."

Wood added that the US government would continue to provide humanitarian aid to the Zimbabwean people in the meantime.

Earlier British Foreign Secretary David Miliband
had said much the same, saying the new government would be judged on its actions which would determine whether Britain provided development support in addition to its present humanitarian support.

The required actions included the release of all political prisoners, an immediate end to political violence and intimidation, the repeal of repressive legislation and the appointment of a credible financial team and a clear roadmap to the next national elections to be conducted freely and fairly "in full view of the international community".