Tsvangirai to attend cabinet meeting

Harare – Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai on Tuesday said he will attend his first cabinet meeting on Wednesday, officially ending a three week boycott that had shaken the fragile transitional coalition government.

“The cabinet meeting is there tomorrow. We will be attending in line with allowing this process (the coalition government) to move forward,” said Tsvangirai in response to a question from a reporter correspondent.

Tsvangirai, who last week called off his party’s boycott of cabinet meetings with President Mugabe at the conclusion of a gathering of southern African leaders, was addressing journalists in Harare on Tuesday.

The cabinet which is usually held on Tuesdays was this week shifted to Wednesday to allow President Robert Mugabe who is currently out of the country attending the Sino-Africa summit in Egypt, to attend the cabinet meeting.

Tsvangirai and his Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) party started boycotting cabinet and the Council of Ministers meeting early last month until outstanding issues contained in their power sharing agreement have been resolved.

The MDC leader accused President Robert Mugabe’s ZANU PF party of deliberately provoking a crisis for the nine month-old inclusive government.

The MDC boycott marked a potential turning point in the unlikely coalition between two bitter enemies, Tsvangirai and Mugabe, who formed a unity government in February after an 11-month standoff that followed the March 2008 elections in which he defeated President Mugabe. But the MDC leader later boycotted a second run of the presidential elections in protest against politically motivated violence targeting his supporters.

In June this year all MDC cabinet ministers boycotted a cabinet meeting in protest after the chief secretary of the president and cabinet advised them that the cabinet meeting had been brought forward to Monday because President Mugabe was leaving for Libya to attend and African Union Summit.

The MDC said the move sought to deny Tsvangirai the opportunity to chair cabinet when the Mugabe is away.

Tsvangirai he was happy that the party now has the backing of SADC and the parties were now talking. “We are very happy because we now have the backing of SADC in the whole process and all the communiques have been supportive of us and all our demands,” said Tsvangirai just after having a meeting with a representative of the Chinese Ambassador to Zimbabwe defence attache senior colonel Zhou Wei.

Tsvangirai said he had a fruitful meeting with the Chinese diplomats and was hoping for further corporations with the Asian economic giant.