Tsvangirai Backs Boycott Of Cabinet Meeting

HARARE, – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday supported his deputy Thokozani Khupe and ministers for refusing to attend a hushed cabinet meeting on Monday called by President Robert Mugabe at short notice.

Mugabe moved the cabinet meeting to Monday, saying he was not going to be available for Wednesday’s meeting as he was going to attend an Africa’s Union meeting in Libya. The MDC said the holding of the meeting on Monday was a snub to the party’s leader Tsvangirai, who could have chaired the meeting in Mugabe’s absence.

"I endorse the statement by Deputy Prime Minister Khupe that the greatest challenge Zimbabwe faces is one of old attitudes that refuse to accept the new order.

"The Ministers from my party disengaged from the Cabinet meeting held yesterday. I understand their frustrations and concerns. It is the same frustration expressed by Zimbabweans in general and the international community that we wish to reengage with as a nation. These frustrations emanate from the slow pace of the implementation of the Global Political Agreement (GPA)," said Tsvangirai in his statement released on Tuesday upon his return from Europe and the United States of America.

Tsvangirai said he would now take it upon himself as a principal in the inclusive Government, to engage President Mugabe and Deputy Prime Minister Mutambara, to address these issues and bring finality to the formation of the inclusive Government.

He said the engagement includes the referral to the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) of some of the outstanding issues.

Tsvangirai said Western leaders in every country he visited expressed reservations about the delays in the full implementation of the Global Political Agreement.

Tsvangirai said the leaders asked him "why, after almost five months, fundamental obligations undertaken by the respective political parties not been implemented?

"Both in Europe and the United States, leaders stated that they had concerns about the success of the new, transitional political dispensation as the Government has not yet been fully constituted due to the outstanding issues. These issues are not foreign benchmarks imposed from outside Zimbabwe, but are our own conditions that we committed ourselves to meeting when we signed the Global Political Agreement (GPA).

"As such, the concerns of the international community are legitimate and the three political parties as the signatories to the Global Political Agreement (GPA), and particularly the leaders of those parties, must take responsibility for the failure to implement fully the obligations we have signed up to," he said.

Tsvangirai indicated that if the nation wants outside assistance, it must first prove that it is able to fulfil the obligations undertaken within the agreement that was brokered by Southern African Development Community (SADC).

"Those parties and individuals that are blocking the full implementation of the GPA are blocking national progress and international assistance. It must be understood by all today, that any individual, or group of individuals, who are standing in the way of progress in the implementation of the GPA, are also standing in the way of Zimbabwe’s rebirth and reengagement with the family of nations at a political and economic level, including the removal of any restrictive measures," he said.

Tsvangirai said the residual elements ‘in our midst must decide whether or not they are going to honour the commitments they made or whether they are going to continue to attempt to obstruct and impede the progress of our nation’.

He described his visit as ‘an overwhelming success. Every one of the countries I visited expressed their unequivocal support for the direction our country is taking, for our democratisation agenda and for the people of Zimbabwe. The primary purpose of the visit was to begin Zimbabwe’s re-engagement with key international donors whose support of the people of Zimbabwe goes back many years.

"This visit was initiated by my office as part of the implementation of the 100 Day Plan and the commitments Government made at the Victoria Falls Ministerial retreat, where it was agreed that we need to reengage the international community at a political and economic level. The visit was an essential step in the process of repositioning Zimbabwe in the family of nations and redefining our national foreign policy agenda," he said

Tsvangirai said the response from the EU was immediate and encouraging, with the EU committing itself to availing transitional and humanitarian support to the tune of more than US$150 million.

"The EU also pledged more support which will be guided ‘by the way in which we meet our own political commitments as outlined in the GPA’. The pledges we received, for both humanitarian and transitional assistance totalling almost US$500 million. My office is in the process of finalising the amounts pledged and their allocations and details will be released in due course.

"While I was away, Government, through Finance Minister, Tendai Biti, also secured lines of credit from China totalling US$950 million. My recent trip confirmed that the international community is ready and willing to help Zimbabwe, but they need us to help ourselves by standing by the political commitments we have undertaken," said Tsvangirai.