Zimbabwe crisis deepens as MDC quits unit talks

HARARE – Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change says it has officially withdrawn from negotiations with Zanu-PF until Thabo Mbeki is replaced as the official Zimbabwe facilitator of the Southern African Development Community.

MDC announced this on Wednesday in response to a letter which Mbeki wrote to Tsvangirai on Monday. Mbeki wrote the letter in response to a letter which MDC secretary general Tendai Biti wrote to him on November 19.

In his letter Biti described the recent SADC decision calling on MDC and Zanu-PF to share the disputed Home Affairs Ministry, as a "nullity".

He said the MDC could not proceed this week – as Mbeki and Zanu-PF wanted them to – with negotiations for Constitutional Amendment 19 which would create the position of prime minister for Tsvangirai in a unity government as this would legitimise the SADC ruling.

He also complained that the Zimbabwean state had completely collapsed, that the government was unable to provide basic amenities such as food, education and health to its people and that it was viciously attacking MDC members.

Mbeki responded, in great detail, in his letter that MDC had already agreed to meet on November 19 and 20 to finalise Amendment 19 and that he believed that the best way to solve the collapse of the state which Biti referred to was for the MDC to help pass Amendment 19 to get into government as soon as possible to tackle the problems Biti identified.

Mbeki also took exception to Biti’s dismissal of the SADC decision on sharing the Home Affairs Ministry as a "nullity".

Mbeki added that perhaps MDC believed the Southern African region and Africa were of little consequence to the future of Zimbabwe, and that others in Western Europe and North America were more important.

The MDC took this last remark as Mbeki implying that it was doing the bidding of Western powers – an accusation often levelled against it by Zanu-PF – and said this was further evidence of Mbeki’s anti-MDC bias which it had complained of often before. It said it would therefore appeal to SADC to remove him as facilitator. Source: IOL