MDC officially kick-starts SADC appeal process

HARARE – MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti on Wednesday sent a letter of appeal for the urgent resolution of three outstanding issues in the inclusive government to Mlungisi Makhalima, the South African ambassador to Harare, for onward transmission to new SADC chairman Jacob Zuma.\r\n

Diplomatic sources confirmed that the MDC’s appeal letter on President Mugabe’s refusal to fire Gideon Gono, the governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe and Attorney General Johannes Tomana, had been presented to Makhalima.

The ambassador is expected to forward the letter to the new South African President Zuma, who holds the rotating chairmanship of the regional bloc until August.

The MDC is seeking the intervention of SADC in forcing President Mugabe to honour his end of the bargain by rescinding the unilateral appointment of Gono and Tomana.

The appointments were made by Mugabe without consultation with the other two principals in the inclusive government, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara.

Mugabe extended the mandate of Gono as central bank governor in November without consultation with his two colleagues in the inclusive government, in what the parties say was a contemptuous breach of the September 15 Global Political Agreement.

The agreement prescribed that all senior government appointments were supposed to be made in concert with all the three principals.

The two MDC principals want Gono to be fired for allegedly vandalising the economy through so-called quasi-fiscal activities or operations unrelated to central banking and the profligate printing of cash.

Mugabe has resolutely rebuffed these calls to dismiss Gono.

The two MDC principals also want Tomana, who was unilaterally appointed AG by Mugabe in December without consultation with the other two principals, fired. They accuse him of abusing the judiciary by targeting opponents of Mugabe and Zanu-PF by employing punitive laws to jail or detain them.

The appeal letter also contains the issue of provincial governors. Although Tsvangirai last week announced that the issue of provincial governors had been resolved, the appeal letter reportedly contains concerns about the implementation of the governors’ agreement.

According to Tsvangirai, Mugabe backtracked and agreed to fire six out of the 10 Zanu-PF governors he had unilaterally appointed, but no one knew when the new governors would resume work.

The State press has reported that the new governors will only be in office in August. Already, the principals have worked out a severance package for the six axed governors, but the matter has been referred to the regional bloc to force the appointment of the governors now.

The letter reportedly refers to the timeline set out in the SADC communique of January 29, stating that governors were supposed to be appointed together with ministers, who took oath on February 13.

Four months later, governors have still not been sworn into office although Mugabe has reportedly agreed to sack six of his Zanu-PF aligned governors under a formula where the mainstream MDC gets to appoint five governors and Mutambara’s MDC formation appoints one.

Reports say that according to SADC protocol, Zuma, after receiving the letter, is supposed to summon the facilitator of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing deal, former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki, to deal with the three issues.

It is up to Mbeki to decide how he handles the matter, diplomatic sources say. But if there is a deadlock, Mbeki will have to refer the matter back to the SADC chairman, who will then summon the SADC troika on Politics, Defence and Security to handle the outstanding issues.

If the troika fails to resolve the matter, an extraordinary SADC summit comprising all 15 heads of State of the regional bloc will be called.

If the SADC leaders fail to break the logjam, then the matter would be referred to the African Union. Efforts to obtain a copy of the letter have been futile.

MDC officials said diplomacy dictated that the contents of the letter could not be disclosed to the Press before it reached its intended recipient.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa said: “The matter is no longer in our hands. It’s now in the province of SADC, as guarantors of the GPA.”

Chamisa said the letter could only be availed to the Press if Zuma had acknowledged receipt.

But an MDC source privy to the contents of the letter described it as “sober.” He said it was a short letter with only one annexure, the SADC resolutions containing a timeline which has not been followed by Mugabe. (The Zimbabwe Times)

Our source said contrary to widely held belief that the MDC was obsessed with the removal of Gono, the party, notwithstanding its unequivocal stance to get Reserve Bank governor fired, was more pre-occupied with the issue of Tomana.

The party believed Tomana constituted a much more serious threat to the inclusive government than Gono.

“Gono can be managed through the Reserve Bank Act,” said our source, a senior MDC official. “So the emphasis really is on Tomana. He must go. Most definitely Tomana must go.

“Given a choice between Tomana and Gideon Gono, the party would rather have Tomana go.”

Key Western governments, key in bankrolling Zimbabwe’s fragile coalition government, have said Gono’s removal is a necessary prelude before Zimbabwe can be considered a fit recipient for aid.

The MDC presented its appeal letter as President Mugabe vowed that Gono would not be removed from office. Speaking at the funeral of Gono’s brother Peter Tungamirai who passed away last Saturday after a long illness, Mugabe alleged that the push for Gono’s removal was located in the regime change matrix.

He actually praised Gono for doing a fantastic job, busting sanctions and keeping the economy afloat by bankrolling agricultural production.

Service chiefs also rallied behind Gono at the funeral, vowing that they will not capitulate and let Gono get fired. Air Vice-Marshall Henry Muchena, speaking on behalf of service chiefs at the funeral of Gono’s brother, said: “The Zimbabwe Defence Forces are solidly behind Gono.”

Muchena took potshots at Finance minister Tendai Biti, who has led the crusade for Gono’s dismissal. Speaking in Shona he said: “Munhu uyu akadzidza akaita gweta achifunda mahara neropa revana vakasara kuChomoio, nhasi omira oti Gono ngaaende. Mwana wambuya vaani iyeye? (This person (Biti) received free education and became a lawyer through the sacrifices of the liberation fighters that perished at Chimoio (in Mozambique during the war of liberation), and today he stands up to say Gono should go. Over our dead bodies).” The Zimbabwe Times