MDC on the brink of walking out of coalition

MDC secretary-general Tendai Biti told representatives of civic society groups that his party had not left the coalition government contrary to assertions made in the state media.

The MDC announced two weeks ago that it was suspending cooperation with Mugabe’s ZANU PF party over the latter’s refusal to abide by commitments it made in a power-sharing agreement signed in September 2008.

The state media has harped on the MDC decision to suspend cooperation with ZANU PF by misleading the public into believing that Tsvangirai’s party had in fact withdrawn from the fragile government it helped form in February.

But Biti said a nationwide exercise to consult the party’s members on its future participation in the eight-month-old coalition government would end next Saturday, after which a decision would be made on whether to remain in the power-sharing regime or not.

“We have an on-going process of consultation. Therefore, it will be premature to make a fundamental decision outside the confines and dictates of the ongoing people’s forums,” said Biti who is also Zimbabwe’s finance minister.

The unity government has been rocked by sharp differences with Mugabe’s ZANU PF over policy and political reforms.

The two parties remain deadlocked over key appointments while the MDC also accuses ZANU PF of engaging in a campaign to persecute its supporters.

At least 17 MDC legislators have been arrested since the beginning of the year on charges ranging from theft and public violence to rape and playing music that denigrates Mugabe.

ZANU PF, in turn, accuses the MDC of reneging on a promise to push for the removal of travel bans and an asset freeze slapped by the West on its senior officials.

Tsvangirai embarked on a diplomatic offensive last week to garner support among members of the Southern African Development Community (SADC) who are the guarantors of Zimbabwe’s power-sharing pact.

He met Mozambican President and chairperson of the SADC Organ on Politics, Defence and Security Cooperation, Armando Guebuza as well as South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma and the Democratic Republic of Congo leader Joseph Kabila.

Kabila holds the rotating SADC chair until the next summit of the regional bloc scheduled for August or September 2010.

A SADC Troika meeting is scheduled for Harare next Thursday to discuss Zimbabwe’s crisis. – ZimOnline