MDC issues ultimatum to Robert Mugabe

Addressing a press conference at the MDC headquarters, Harvest House, in Harare on Wednesday, Biti said if the outstanding issues were not resolved by Monday, the party would refer the issue to the party’s supreme making decision body, the National Council.

The MDC National Council will meet on May 17.

Biti said issues which remained unresolved were the appointment of provincial governors, permanent secretaries, ambassadors, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor Gideon Gono and the Attorney-General, Johannes Tomana.

Biti, now Minister of Finance, said the appointments of Gono and Tomana were unprocedural because they were executive appointments made after the signing of the Global Political Agreement (GPA) between Zanu-PF and the MDC formations.

The GPA states that such appointments must be done following an agreement by the principals.

Also of concern to the MDC was the refusal by President Robert Mugabe to swear in MDC treasurer-general, Roy Bennett as the deputy Minister of Agriculture, and the stripping of key ministerial functions from an MDC minister Nelson Chamisa’s ministry of Information, Communication and Technnology.

Mugabe moved the communications portfolio to Zanu-PF loyalist, Nicholas Goche who now runs the Ministry of Transport and Communications.

Biti said Bennett was innocent until proven guilty. He said according to the GPA, which was now part of the Constitution of Zimbabwe, Mugabe had no powers to refuse to swear-in Bennett after the MDC official had been nominated by his party.

The MDC secretary-general urged the deputy-minister designate to go to his office and start work.

Biti also lashed out at the service chiefs for failing to respect “the new authority in town, which is the office of the Prime Minister.”

He said the service chiefs had shown reluctance to respect the Prime Minister Tsvangirai during the Independence Day celebrations and at the Zimbabwe International Trade Fair.

“The delay in finding a lasting solution to outstanding issues is of great concern to the MDC,” Biti said.

“In our view these issues should have been concluded soon after the formation of the inclusive government in February.”

He said the party was worried that some elements in government, Zanu- PF, the security forces and public media continued to disregard some clear provisions laid out in the GPA.

“There are a number of toxic and poisonous attitudes that some of these institutions are showing. Their attitude is as if they are in a war situation,” Biti said.

He said the public media, especially The Herald and the ZBC, continued to preach hate speech intended to assault the MDC. Biti said the MDC was a democratic party that won the March 29, 2008 elections with a clear majority.

Biti also raised concerns over the disregard of human rights by some State security agents in light of the re-arrests of Zimbabwe Peace Projects director, Jestina Mukoko, Ghandi Mudzingwa, former personal aide of the Prime Minister and 16 other MDC and civil society activists.

“We find it unacceptable that when we want to make progress there are some people whose conduct is inconsistent with rebuilding a new Zimbabwe,” he said.

He said the conduct of Zanu-PF continued to undo all efforts to rescue the country.

Biti, however, said the MDC stood by its principles and values which it had been fighting for the past ten years.

Biti said the MDC had an excellent relationship with incoming South African President Jacob Zuma, and hoped that the new era in South Africa would bode well for Zimbabwe.

This article was originally published by The Zimbabwe Times.