Mugabe gets an ultimatum

Harare – Zimbabwe's Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Wednesday he had given President Robert Mugabe a deadline on the resolution of issues threatening to derail the country's unity government.

Tsvangirai was speaking ahead of a third meeting between the two leaders on Thursday over the unilateral claw-back by Mugabe of the telecommunications dossier from Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change (MDC).

"The outstanding issues cannot go on and on hanging over our hands," said Tsvangirai, while refusing to reveal what sort of ultimatum he had issued 85-year-old Mugabe.

Mugabe earlier this month took telecommunications off MDC Information Minister Nelson Chamisa and gave it to Transport Minister Nicholas Goche – a member of the Zanu-PF party.

The move outraged the MDC, given that telecommunications covers spying.

The ongoing invasion of white-owned farms by Zanu-PF loyalists and Mugabe’s refusal to review his unilateral appointments of the central bank governor and attorney general are other issues threatening to scupper the deal and putting the skids on foreign aid and investment.

Finance Minister Tendai Biti has appealed for $10bn to rebuild the tattered economy, but Western donors are waiting for proof of real reforms before committing to anything more than emergency relief for the millions of Zimbabweans, who cannot feed themselves.

So far, two meetings between Mugabe, Tsvangirai and deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara, leader of a breakaway faction of Tsvangirai’s MDC and the third signatory to September’s power-sharing agreement, have failed to resolve the issues.

– DPA