MDC will consult on pulling out

HARARE – Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change party began high level talks at the weekend on proposals from its members to disengage from the unity government.\r\n

The party wants to put pressure on President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF to make concessions on the outstanding issues of their Global Political Agreement (GPA).

Mr Nelson Chamisa, the MDC spokesman said the party’s national executive council met in the second city of Bulawayo on Saturday evening to kick start the consultation process.

The meeting will be followed up by that of the national council also in the same city on Sunday before the party holds celebrations to mark its 10 years of existence.

Mr Tsvangirai is under pressure from some hardliners in his party who want him to force Mr Mugabe to make compromises on the outstanding issues in the implementation of the last September 15 power-sharing agreement.

The failure by the Southern African Development Community to deal with Zimbabwe’s long running crisis at its Democratic Republic of Congo summit has heightened tensions in the fragile coalition.

"We are looking at progress and the lack of it on the implementation of the GPA," he said. "This week’s SADC summit will be a topical issue."

Key Western donors have refused to extend any support to the unity government until it implements major reforms.

But a defiant Mr Mugabe on Saturday claimed that he has met his side of the bargain in the GPA.

“They (the EU delegation) thought things were not working, yet we did all the things we were asked to do under the GPA, timeously even,” Mr Mugabe said after he met a delegation of senior officials from the EU in the country for high level talks.

Mr Mugabe said he established a good rapport with the EU delegation during the meeting at State House. 

“We established a good rapport,” he said. “There was no animosity.” 

The delegation, which consisted off EU commissioner for development and humanitarian aid Karel de Gucht, Swedish International Corporation Corporation Minister Gunilla Carlsson and a representative from Spain is the visit to visit Zimbabwe in almost 10 years.

Mr Tsvangirai told them that there were serious challenges in the implementation of the GPA.

“We discussed the EU-Zimbabwe dialogue. We said there are issues in the GPA,” he told a press conference after his meeting with the delegation,” he told journalists in Bulawayo after talks with the EU officials.

“We want to see the full implementation of the agreement and that is why we have taken the issues to SADC.

“However there has to be progress. The pace of the GPA has been slow but I’m sure the three political principals will be able to sit down and solve the issues.”

Ms Carlsson who led the delegation said the EU, which imposed sanctions on Mr Mugabe’s inner circle for violating human rights said the block was prepared to re-engage Zimbabwe.

“We would like to engage with the government of national unity in Zimbabwe. But of course, we are concerned by the fact that there has been no progress on some issues included in the global agreement,” she said.

“These specifically refer to governance issues.”

The EU delegation made it clear that sanctions against Zimbabwe will not be removed until the GPA is fully implemented.