We’re no longer in direct contact with Robert Mugabe – Tsvangirai

HARARE – Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has limited contact with President Robert Mugabe to only unavoidable meetings a month, but insists that a unity government they entered in February 2009 is the only viable option to consolidate progress made on the economic and political front.\r\n

Tsvangirai accuses Mugabe of “eroding trust” built over the last two years.
Mugabe’s October 7 decision to re-appoint governors without consulting him “broke the camel’s back”, he told a French TV news channel.

“I think since the unilateral action, I have stopped engaging him,” Tsvangirai told France 24 in an interview aired Wednesday. “Of course we meet in cabinet. But the regular Monday meetings we used to have I have ceased them because I found that it was unhelpful.”

Mugabe, who says he wants elections next year to end the “nonsense” of power sharing, has told Tsvangirai that he can only negotiate over governor appointments when western sanctions on the country are lifted.

A power sharing pact signed in September 2008 compels the MDC leader to work together with Mugabe and the third coalition partner, Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara, “in re-engaging the international community with a view to bringing to an end the country’s international isolation.”

Tsvangirai said: “One of the things that happens in this situation is that there has to be a personal rapport, there has to be personal understanding if you have made progress.

“But if people use it [regular meetings] just for political expediency purposes, to say we will have this engagement just to be seen to be engaged, rather than to engage in honest and frank discussions about the affairs of the state, then I think its deceiving the other party.

“My trust that has been built over the last two years has been seriously eroded because of the actions that have been taken.”

Yet despite his growing rift with Mugabe, Tsvangirai believes the 86-year-old leader could yet play a significant role “for his own legacy’s sake” in ensuring the country does not slide back to the economic and political problems of the last decade.

Said the MDC leader: “Is Robert Mugabe determined to die in office? I don’t think so.

“Are his people who are around him, backing him, determined to put him in front until he dies in office because of their own self-interest? I suspect so.

“He has to make that decision for his own legacy’s sake. Does he want to die in office for the sake of dying in office?”
Tsvangirai says while his MDC party has "always been ready" for an election, the planned 2011 ballot is "premature" and a threat to the country’s prevailing stability.

He added: "I think across the political divide people don’t want to slide back to where we were. Should he create those conditions, should he trigger those conditions, I think it would be very regrettable.

"But I understand from his own party that he wants to stand again which means that at 87, he’s looking to be a life president, which is laughable.

"Should that happen, and he’s pushing for an election prematurely, we will slide back to the conflict which was not helpful for the country. The isolation of the country and economic decay would again revisit it us. I think the people of Zimbabwe would find that a very irresponsible action to take."