Tsvangirai blocked from leaving South Africa

JOHANNESBURG – There was drama in Johannesburg on Wednesday night when South African authorities blocked MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai from leaving that country, after he had signaled that talks between his party and ZANU PF were now dead.

A highly placed source in the MDC told us Tsvangirai was scheduled to leave Johannesburg for Morocco on Wednesday night but was astonished when immigration officials at the airport denied him the right to exit the country. The MDC leader was headed for Morocco to receive an award for his fight for democracy. Several heads of state and other luminaries are expected to be at the ceremony.

The MDC leadership is believed to have been shocked by this decision from the South African authorities and was still trying to understand why they blocked Tsvangirai from leaving. He frequently uses Johannesburg as a springboard for flights to regional, continental and other world destinations, because there are no direct flights to most of these areas from Harare.

The party leadership in Johannesburg is of the view that authorities there had wanted to confine him to that country in an attempt to force him to sign the power-sharing deal.

‘There is no other explanation. It raises suspicions that the moment he signaled that talks had collapsed, the authorities try to block him from leaving,’ said an MDC insider.

It has emerged however that Tsvangirai is no longer in South Africa, after he quietly sneaked out and is on his way to Morocco.

Tsvangirai has indicated that talks have stalled and the MDC want Mbeki removed as the mediator, following a spat of acrimonious correspondence between the two men.

The latest round of talks collapsed before they even started on Tuesday, when Mbeki was pushing the MDC to agree to the power share deal, even though it contained changes that were fraudulently by ZANU PF, without consultation with the MDC. Changes that clearly help maintain power in Mugabe’s hands.

When the MDC raised this issue with Mbeki last month, he promised them he would take the necessary steps to ensure that Constitutional Amendment no 19 included the provisions contained in the agreement signed privately, on 11 September. But on Tuesday, Mbeki was singing a different tune, in an apparent bid to let the ZANU PF altered text stand.

The MDC has been irked by Mbeki’s refusal to accept responsibility, as the mediator, for failing to ensure there was no alteration to the document.
MDC’s chief negotiator at the talks, Tendai Biti, believes Mbeki doesn’t treat the issue of the fraudulent alteration of the document seriously.

Our source said the MDC will not sign the altered document and the situation has been exacerbated by Mbeki’s refusal to change the document to reflect what was signed on 11th September.

‘Whilst the mediator is not serious on this issue, the MDC will not move an inch because it goes to the heart of whether there is sincerity on the part of ZANU PF and whether Mbeki himself can be trusted as a mediator,’ our source said.

He added; ‘For us this shows that ZANU PF can’t be trusted and are not sincere, and as for Mbeki, he is clearly biased towards ZANU PF and his father Mugabe, that is why we are saying he must recuse himself, we have endured a lot of abuse and disrespect from him.’

The MDC is also furious with Mbeki after he insulted Tsvangirai and Biti in the letter that has sparked the latest controversy. Biti took special exception to the insults that Mbeki threw at Tsvangirai, insults that are the same as what ZANU PF says of the MDC leader and his party.

‘Mbeki calls our President an idiot, unAfrican and a puppet and we can’t take that lightly, and this angered Biti.’ our source added. source: SWRadioafrica.com