Zimbabwe sitting on knife-edge

HARARE – An international conflict prevention group has warned that Zimbabwe is one of three countries sitting on knife-edge and should be watched closely because of their worsening political situations.\r\n

International Crisis Group (ICG) said in a report that political undercurrents in the three African nations of Zimbabwe, Nigeria and Guinea were threatening the stability of these countries and could easily explode into full crises at any time.

“Zimbabwe’s inclusive government looked increasingly unstable, threatening to fracture over differences on implementation of the 2008 Global Political Agreement and elections,” ICG said in the October issue of its monthly bulletin CrisisWatch.

Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC-T party last month said Zimbabwe was sliding into a constitutional crisis and urged the Southern African Development Community (SADC) to urgently intervene to force President Robert Mugabe to respect the country’s Constitution.

Tsvangirai accused Mugabe of violating Zimbabwe’s Constitution and a 2008 power-sharing pact through the “illegal” appointments of his close friends to senior government positions since November 2008.

The contested appointments included those of the central bank governor Gideon Gono, Attorney General Johannes Tomana, provincial governors, ambassadors, judges and a commission to oversee operations of the police force.

Mugabe is accused of unilaterally making appointments of these officials without consulting the Prime Minister as required under the power-sharing pact – commonly referred to as the global political agreement (GPA) – that the two leaders signed in September 2008.

Tsvangirai said the MDC-T national executive had resolved not to recognise all unilateral appointments by Mugabe who has also refused to swear in the party’s treasurer-general Roy Bennett as deputy agriculture minister.

Mugabe has linked the implementation of outstanding GPA issues to the lifting of restrictive measures imposed on him and senior officials of his ZANU PF party in 2002.

Tsvangirai urged SADC to deploy observers before a constitutional referendum scheduled for next year in order “to help protect the rights of Zimbabweans to express their views freely and without violence or intimidation”.

An outreach programme to gather pubic views on a proposed Constitution has been marred by political violence, with meetings for Harare postponed in September after inter-party clashes left at least five MDC-T supporters injured. – ZimOnline