Coalition Leaders Expected To Meet Monday

The meeting follows a request by the leader of the main Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) faction, Morgan Tsvangirai, who recently announced that his party will not be engaging with Zanu PF on all matters pertaining to the inclusive government until all outstanding issues are dealt with.

The state-owned Herald said Saturday the three leaders were expected to meet on Monday on a "routine" meeting. "Earlier this week, Mr Tsvangirai asked to meet President Mugabe and the request was granted. The three principals to the GPA are expected to meet on Monday, for their routine meeting," said the paper.

A Zimbabwe minister also said last Wednesday he was hopeful President Robert Mugabe and Prime Minister Tsvangirai would meet this week to resolve disputes that forced the MDC to boycott the unity goverment.

Welshman Ncube, Industry and Commerce Minister and secretary general of a splinter MDC headed by Arthur Mutambara, told industrialists at an investment conference, that Tsvangirai’s decision to disengage from Mugabe ZANU-PF had shaken renewed investor confidence in the country.

The MDC boycott has sparked the country’s biggest political crisis since the formation of a new administration and while analysts say the decision may not mean the end of the fragile coalition, it will put pressure on regional leaders to act.

"I am happy to say that in the last 48 hours the political leadership of the three political parties have resolved that they need to holistically look at the issues that have led to the current situation," Ncube said. "We hope that in the next two to three days there will be a meeting of the three leaders to discuss those issues."

Ncube’s boss and deputy prime minister Mutambara met Mugabe on Monday over the MDC boycott. Mutambara urged Mugabe to "shape up or ship out", accusing him of derailing the unity government progress.

‘The matters the people are complaining about in the MDC-T are that we should now voluntarily, from our side, you see, give away aspects of our authority, we will not do that," said Mugabe commenting on the MDC’s decision for the first time on Saturday. "They can go to any summit, any part of the world to appeal — that will not happen.’’

Tsvangirai last week was on a Southern African Development Community (SADC) tour to meet leaders and brief them on the party’s decision and to seek their intervention in the Zimbabwe crisis. Media reports said last week, DRC President Joseph Kabila had agreed to travel to Zimbabwe soon to mediate in the political crisis.

Mugabe said no party in the inclusive Government could give another an ultimatum since the Government subsisted by virtue of agreements between the three parties.

Despite MDC-T’s antics, the President said he was sure the party’s leadership would not leave Government. ‘‘I do not read that they would want to leave the inclusive Government, I think that they will come back to it soon.’’

Meanwhile the Sunday Standard said the Ministry of Media, Information and Publicity had ordered Zimbabwe Broadcasting Holdings and other state-controlled newspapers to stop covering MDC-T ministers until the party reverses its decision to suspend contact with Zanu PF.

ZBC chief executive Happison Muchechetere was said to have told the state broadcaster’s senior editors about the directive on Friday evening.

The paper quoted sources saying all radio stations and ZTV had dropped all stories where MDC-T ministers are the main sources following Muchechetere’s edict.

"He said the ministry said the MDC-T ministers cannot speak on behalf of government following their decision to disengage," said the source. "So until the party reverses its decision, the ministers will not be covered."

The MDC-T has said it remains part of government but will not attend cabinet and council of ministers meetings with Zanu PF until outstanding issues in their power-sharing agreement are resolved.

MDC Secretary-General, Tendai Biti, told a meeting with civic society on Friday that the decision to disengage had been made after the MDC had realised that the transitional government had been arrested and there was no movement in resolving outstanding issues.

"We are disengaging from forums that we interact with Zanu PF at the executive arm of government, which is the Cabinet and Council of Ministers," said Biti.

He added that the MDC felt insulted by the way the party’s Treasurer-General and deputy Agriculture minister designate, Senator Roy Bennett had been treated by the State following his arrest on trumped-up charges, the none appointment of MDC provincial governors, the unilateral appointments by President Robert Mugabe of the Attorney General, the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, the alteration of Ministerial mandates and the resurgence of violence in most areas across the country, among other issues.

He said other toxic issues included the continued persecution of MDC MPs and other party functionaries, the disregard of the rule of law, the slow pace of Constitutional, media and the security sector reforms.

"The National Security Council only met once and it was just introductions, they have not properly met as is mandated by the GPA," said Biti.

He said hate speech in the public media, farm invasions, the militarisation of the country side and the lack of respect for the MDC as an equal partner had poisoned the political relationship with Zanu PF.

However, Biti said the party was still carrying out consultations with the people of Zimbabwe which will end on 31 October 2009.

But Mugabe said:‘‘There is nothing in the GPA that has not been done by Zanu-PF, nothing at all. We have fulfilled everything that the GPA wanted us to fulfil; the legal aspects we were very accurate about them. The swearing in of all those who were supposed to be sworn in, that was done timeously and in an appropriate manner.The matters that had to do with what, beyond the legal aspect we had to do, we have done.’’

Mugabe said removing sanctions, which he viewed as the MDC’s responsibility, was fundamental, much more than the appointment of governors. "Anyway that is a matter that is within the prerogative of the President and that is for me to decide,’’ he said. Radio vop