SADC to hold Zimbabwe summit as MDC refuse to be bullied

HARARE, – Southern African countries plan to hold an extraordinary summit on the political crisis in Zimbabwe, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Friday.

Sources within the MDC leadership said they refused to be pushed around by a bunch of foreign Ministers from SADC countries whose agenda was to take directives from Robert Mugabe and former South African President Thabo Mbeki.

The South African delegation in the SADC ministerial delegation dominated the proceedings and most of its members were former staff members of retired South African President Thabo Mbeki’s, with former Director-General Rev Chikane being vocal in an effort to put pressure on the MDC.

An MDC source said, Rev Chikane was pulling the strings on behalf of his handlers. 

It is believed that DRC President Joseph Kabila went to South Africa and met with former South African President Thabo Mbeki in private before his arrival in Harare.

Tsvangirai told reporters the Southern African Development Community’s (SADC) defence, political and security troika would recommend holding a special summit to discuss difficulties facing his strained unity government with President Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai said no date had been set.

A Southern African delegation tried to exert pressure on Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC to end a cabinet boycott in an effort to resolve rifts threatening Zimbabwe’s power-sharing government, but the MDC has refused to give in on their demands.

Tsvangirai joined arch-rival President Robert Mugabe nine months ago in a coalition to try to end a decade-long political and economic crisis, but his MDC announced a fortnight ago that it was "disengaging" from the government over a dispute with Mugabe on the implementation of the power-sharing agreement.

The MDC’s decision to boycott cabinet meetings and interaction with Mugabe’s ZANU-PF party, illustrated the difficulties of the power-sharing deal and has further delayed efforts to rebuild Zimbabwe’s shattered economy.

The SADC official, believed to be Rev Chikane briefed the media in the morning and declined to be named, and said Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change should fight its cause from within the government.

"SADC is ready to help the Zimbabwe parties to reach an understanding on those matters where they have differences," he added, but declined to discuss specifics.

Neither the MDC nor ZANU-PF have disclosed details of their discussions with the SADC delegation. But official sources said they both presented complaints against each other.

Besides refusing to swear-in some of its members into government, the MDC accuses ZANU-PF — which it calls an "arrogant and unreliable partner" of persecuting its officials and delaying media and constitutional reforms that will be key to holding free and fair elections in about two years.

Mugabe says he has met obligations under the power-sharing deal and maintains the MDC needs to campaign for the lifting of Western sanctions against his ZANU-PF, including travel restrictions and a freeze on general financial aid to Zimbabwe.

ZANU-PF also says the MDC must end a propaganda campaign by its supporters abroad, and should ask its Western backers to shut down what it calls "pirate radio stations" broadcasting into Zimbabwe from Britain and the United States.

"We are owed more than we are in debt because the issues the MDC are raising are not in the global political agreement that we signed, and some of them are meant for propaganda purposes," Justice Minister Patrick Chinamasa told Zimbabwe