Sadc crisis talks as Mugabe, Tsvangirai fall out – Report

THE Southern African Development Community (Sadc) will this week intervene in Zimbabwe’s crisis to avert a collapse of its shaky government of unity.

Diplomatic sources said yesterday that Sadc would task the chairman of its organ on politics, defence and security, Mozambican President Armando Guebuza, to hold emergency talks with Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe and his bitter rival, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai, in a bid to resolve the situation triggered by Friday’s withdrawal of the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) from the government.

The MDC, led by Tsvangirai, suspended participation in the Mugabe-led government, citing an overhang of issues still not resolved since the coalition took office in February.

The issues include sharing of posts of provincial governors, diplomats, senior public servants, the disputed appointments of attorney-general Johannes Tomana and Reserve Bank governor Gideon Gono, arrests of MPs and full implementation of the political agreement signed in September last year.

Sadc resolved at its recent Kinshasa summit that Guebuza and his team would resolve lingering disputes between Mugabe and Tsvangirai that threatened the unstable inclusive government.

Intense power struggles between Mugabe and Tsvangirai have kept the unity government teetering on the brink since its formation.

The MDC is also complaining about violations of the agreement, political repression, rule of law and human rights, continued farm seizures, media tyranny and Mugabe’s refusal to adopt political and democratic reforms, including constitutional review.

There is also a fierce dispute on the swearing in of Deputy Minister of Agriculture Roy Bennett in the eye of the political storm raging in Harare.

The Bennett issue, especially his redetention last Wednesday, triggered the MDC’s withdrawal from the government.

Bennett was detained again after being taken into custody in February on charges of terrorism, banditry and incitement of insurgency.

The outcome of the case will be make or break for the MDC in deciding to stay in government or quit. If the MDC pulls out completely, Zimbabwe could be plunged back into the political and economic quagmire, where it languished for 10 years until February.

The high court released Bennett on Friday after two days in jail, and prosecutors agreed on Saturday to postpone from today to a later date Bennett’s terrorism trial.

Mugabe has reacted defiantly to the MDC withdrawal, saying that Zimbabweans must learn a lesson from this, and stop voting for Tsvangirai’s party. Business Day (SA)