Mugabe secretly pleads with Tsvangirai for unit government

HARARE – Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe secretly pleaded with his arch-rival, Morgan Tsvangirai, to join him in a unity Zimbabwean government after regional leaders instructed the leaders this week to form one immediately.

But Tsvangirai again declined and refused to name members of his Movement for Democratic Change to be appointed to a new unity cabinet. Tsvangirai earlier rejected a Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders’ resolution to "co-manage" the crucial ministry of home affairs with Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

Upon arrival back in Zimbabwe on Monday after the SADC summit in Johannesburg, Mugabe vowed to appoint a cabinet unilaterally this week or next, but has since been holding back.

Sources said Mugabe had sent a senior emissary, Simon Khaya Moyo, a former cabinet minister and Zimbabwe’s ambassador to South Africa, to try to persuade Tsvangirai to come home immediately to co-operate in the forming of a new government in line with the SADC’s recommendation.

But Tsvangirai, who has remained in South Africa since the summit, turned down Mugabe’s plea.

Sources said Tsvangirai’s stance meant that Mugabe could now proceed to name a cabinet immediately.

Some observers believe he might wait for the MDC’s national council meeting on Friday, hoping that Tsvangirai will be overruled by a majority within his party and forced to join the unity government. A cabinet would then be named next week.

"Arrogance is Mugabe’s hallmark and he could have proceeded to appoint the cabinet without Tsvangirai soon after his hand was strengthened by SADC’s decision. But he also realises the futility of proceeding without Tsvangirai and hence his uncharacteristic effort of reaching out to him on Monday," said a Zimbabwean government source.

A cabinet without Tsvangirai would probably guarantee Zimbabwe’s collapse as donors and investors are unlikely to deal with Mugabe alone. Even South Africa’s R300-million pledge to help resuscitate Zimbabwe’s mainstay agricultural sector was offered on conditional that a unity government was formed first.

Neither Tsvangirai nor Moyo could be reached for comment on Wednesday.

Observers believe it is unlikely that the MDC’s national council will overrule Tsvangirai and ask him to join the unity government

Eddie Cross, who is in charge of the MDC-T faction’s policy formulation department, warned this week that the MDC would have to make a tough decision.

In a circular entitled "What Next?" he said the decision on whether to proceed with the unity deal would "be the most difficult decision for the MDC since we were formed in 1999".

"This time the consequences of rejection of a flawed deal for our people will be immediate and terrible," said Cross, warning that up to a million Zimbabweans could perish of hunger.

Zimbabwe’s currency is worthless, with inflation officially at 231-million percent but calculated by the private sector at eight billion percent.

The World Food Programme said this week it had fed two million Zimbabweans in October, and expected to feed four million this month. It warned that it would not be able to continue the feeding programme because of a lack of donations.

Tsvangirai berated the SADC leaders over their "lack of courage to look Mugabe in the face and tell him that he is wrong". He has called for the establishment of an "eminent persons group" to salvage the unity deal signed on September 15.

Source: IOL