Speaking to the Financial Times of London’s Richard Lapper and Tom Burgis in South Africa where he was attending the inauguration of Jacob Zuma as president of South Africa, Tsvangirai pointedly said, "There is no deadline."
You will recall that in my article, "MDC-T Poised To Fire Tsvangirai", I told you that the Prime Minister had refused to attend the press conference called by Biti on Wednesday, during which the MDC-T Secretary General put down the ultimatum to Tsvangirai and Mugabe.
I also told you why.
It is now clear that there are serious disagreements within the MDC-T on the way forward, with some MPs (nine identified so far) calling into question the Prime Minister’s motivation in staying in government.
There are also strong forces within the MDC-T itself who feel that Tsvangirai is not being grateful enough to them for all that they have done for the party. He is failing to stand up for them. Failing, for instance, to stand up to Mugabe on behalf of the MDC-T Deputy Minister of Agriculture-designate, Roy Bennet, despite his gigantic efforts over the years in fundraising for the opposition party.
Failing, also, to stand up to Mugabe on behalf of Nelson Chamisa, who is now in charge of a shell of a ministry.
But the significance of the Prime Minister’s statement to the FT lies in the fact that, although we all know an ultimatum when we see or hear one, and although Biti was clear that his was an ultimatum, Tsvangirai says the Secretary General does not know what he talking about.
He openly calls Biti’s fight to clean up the Reserve Bank in order to get donor money into government coffers "the Gideon Gono bandwagon."
As for Biti’s threat that failure to resolve "outstanding issues" by Monday 11 May 2009 will result in the matter being referred to the MDC-T National Council, Tsvangirai also dismisses that as so much hot air, saying:
"We had to express our frustration."
In other words, he is saying Tendai Biti was simply blowing off some steam and his statement should not be take seriously at all.
I wonder how the Secretary General, who is emerging as the strongest critic of the Prime Minister within the party, will take this.
Still, on the matter of the Unity Government (or Coalition Government or whatever it is they are calling it this week), it is clear from all of Tsvangirai’s statements in South Africa that he has accepted that there is no way out.
With MDC activists, including Gandi Mudzingwa still behind bars and scores of others persecuted, the Prime Minister boldly told three separate audiences at the weekend that the GNU is "on the right track."
I wonder if Gandi Mudzingwa agrees with him. What about Jestina Mukoko? Or the other 17 people charges with her?
I wonder if Nelson Chamisa, who threatened to resign centuries ago but has still not gone anywhere, agrees with him?
What about Roy Bennet?
And what about the people themselves, Zimbabweans who are still plagued by cholera (which the Prime Minister, aping Mugabe, now says has "disappeared"), with no water in their taps, with boreholes being drilled at our University of Zimbabwe?
Do they agree that the GNU is on the right track?
What about the all-important donors? The IMF, World Bank, British, Americans and others who, if things were as rosy as the Prime Minister would want us to believe, should be falling over each other to offer us the balance of payment support we need to get this country working again?
The right track?
The Prime Minister should have his head examined.
Still, he has now cut his Secretary General down to size in full view of the world. What remains to be seen is whether Biti can marshal enough forces on his side at the National Council, set to meet on November 17.
What, I wonder, is the point of the meeting, seeing as the President of the MDC-T himself says there is no deadline. They will be meeting to do what, in light of the fact that the Prime Minister says they should not pay attention to the "frustration" of Tendai Biti?