Most Zimbabweans Want MDC To Stay In Inclusive Government


    Since polling started on September 24, more people have been voting for the former opposition party to remain in government.

    By the fifth day of the polling on September 28, the party had recorded 52.8 percent of the voters supporting the stay in government. The margin has since continued to increase with 57.2 percent of the voters registered as of noon on Thursday, against 42.8 percent of the opponents who initially accounted for 47.2 percent.

    The number of respondents continues to be low, however, with 166 people having cast their votes by Thursday. This could be attributed to limited access to the Internet by the majority of Zimbabweans.

    The spirit of keeping the MDC in government is shared even by many within President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF, given the improvement that has taken place in people’s lives since the formation of the inclusive government.

    Analysts have also said it would not be in the interests of any to pull out now, against the people’s hope for a brighter future.

    The MDC initiated the poll after expressing frustration over what it called outstanding issues to the Global Political Agreement, which gave birth to the inclusive government.

    Among its complaints are the appointments of Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe governor Gideon Gono and Attorney-General Johannes Tomana, whom the party wants to be replaced; the failure to swear in the party’s treasurer-general Roy Bennet as deputy minister of agriculture and the appointment of provincial governors.

    Mugabe has refused to swear Bennet into office, arguing that he has a pending criminal case in the courts of law. He has promised, however, that he will swear him into office as soon as he is cleared of the charges.

    On the issue of Gono and Tomana, Mugabe has said the appointments were done in accordance of the law and will not be reversed. Gono is accused of having contributed to the economic decline in the country, while Tomana has declared that he is a supporter of Mugabe’s party — Zanu-PF.

    While Tsvangirai has in the past said there had been agreements on the appointment of provincial governors, the matter is far from being resolved.

    Mugabe’s party argues that provincial governors are representatives of the president, and as such, it is the prerogative of the president to choose the people who occupy those positions.

    Zanu-PF also argues that the only outstanding issue is the removal of economic sanctions by the West. Opening the Second Session of the Seventh Parliament of Zimbabwe on Tuesday, Mugabe once again called for the removal of the sanctions, saying they were hurting the ordinary poor.

    He also called for a revival of relations between Zimbabwe and those countries which had imposed sanctions against it.

    The smaller faction of the MDC led by Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, and which completes the full composition of the inclusive government, has remained relatively quiet about the outstanding issues. 

    Meanwhile, the Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is among favourites to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday from a record field including a Chinese dissident and an Afghan human rights activist, Norway’s NRK television said.

    The prize, widely viewed as the world’s top accolade, will be announced in Oslo at 11 a.m. (0900 GMT) at the Nobel Institute by Thorbjorn Jagland, a former Norwegian Prime Minister who heads the five-member committee.

    "Will the peace prize go to Tsvangirai?" public broadcaster NRK asked in a headline over a story about the prize on Thursday evening with a large picture of the prime minister on its website.

    A prize could strengthen Tsvangirai’s hand in an uneasy unity government with President Robert Mugabe, whom Norway’s government has blamed for "years of misrule, embezzlement and hyperinflation".

    Norway resumed aid to Zimbabwe this year after a break since 2000 and Tsvangirai visited Oslo in June.

    NRK most often correctly focuses on the winner of the $1.4 million prize on the eve of the prize announcement. It denies getting leaks, but said the 2009 prize would go to an individual among a record 205 candidates, rather than to an organisation.

    "It’s always exciting to see how the prize is received both here at home and also in the rest of the world," committee chairman Jagland said.

    NRK said that Chinese dissident Hu Jia, was among the bookmakers’ favourites, but it said that "several experts" doubted he could win. It might be a bad time to give the prize to a dissident when the United States wanted closer ties with China.