MDC gets tough on unity deal

2009-09-15 14:24

Zimbabwe faces a real threat of sliding back into another violent

political catastrophe as the country’s most popular party, the Movement for

Democratic Change (MDC), pushes to abandon the existing political settlement

with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu-PF.

Impeccable sources in Morgan Tsvangirai’s MDC have revealed that

pressure has been brought to bear on the party leadership to seriously consider

pulling out of the inclusive government, citing Mugabe’s “insincerity and

sinister motives”.

Sources that attended last weekend’s meetings of top MDC organs in

Bulawayo say Tsvangirai, who is prime minister in the inclusive government, “was

pushed into publicly conceding the marriage with Mugabe was no longer

sustainable”.

A party executive member said today: “The national executive, the

national council and the party’s standing committee held crucial meetings at the

weekend to review progress and lack of it in the inclusive government.

Tsvangirai and a few more leaders tried to get members to give Mugabe a little

more time but they could not provide sufficient evidence the old man (Mugabe)

was prepared to or capable of changing his ways.”

Another senior official, who is also a cabinet minister, described

the Bulawayo meetings as a “no-holds-barred verbal showdown” that ended in the

leadership agreeing to give the inclusive government an unspecified deadline to

show willingness to comply with requirements of the Global Political Agreement

(GPA) that brought it into existence.

“There are hardliners who called for an immediate divorce with

Mugabe but the president (Tsvangirai) stood his ground although in the end he

had to agree the party had to change its stance and make its demands heard. Even

Tsvangirai’s very close friends like (MDC spokesperson) Nelson Chamisa and

(Energy and Power Development Minister) Elias Mudzuri also raised their concerns

over the manner in which Mugabe is making a mockery of our party,” said the

official.

The plan, said the official, was to get Mugabe to realise that he

owed his present status to MDC’s benevolence, without which he could be dragged

into an election he could not win.

Tsvangirai emerged from the weekend meetings evidently changed. The

softly-softly approach on Mugabe had been discarded as he warned the aged

dictator not to misjudge him.

“I have done my part to promote reconciliation in this country.

Even after winning the election I have compromised for the sake of Zimbabwe. But

don’t misjudge me. You misjudge me at your own peril,” said Tsvangirai.

A member of the MDC national executive, Eddie Cross, has confirmed

the rumblings in his party and the decision to give Mugabe an ultimatum to

comply with the GPA. Tsvangirai was expected to give Mugabe a “one week”

ultimatum when they met in what Cross described as a “High Noon, Main Street

moment” yesterday.

“This tougher stance was triggered by several events in the past

week or so,” Cross said in a newspaper article today.

“Secondly, we felt that our willingness to compromise to try and

make this deal work was being misconstrued as compliance and that this

impression had to be corrected.”

Following the recent new wave of violent farm invasions, said

Cross, the MDC had “responded by abandoning its previous stance that the

so-called land reform exercise was “irreversible”. The national executive now

states that Zanu-PF’s land reform programme is “unacceptable and will require a

comprehensive review and change”.

The MDC official said Mugabe would do his best to keep Tsvangirai

in the inclusive government because his leaving it would “spell doom for Mugabe

and his party”.

“Make no mistake; it will not be back to normal business and

looting for the Zanu-PF thugs,” he said.

“The Southern African Development Community would have no

alternative but to become engaged and this time there would be no (Thabo) Mbeki

to protect Zanu-PF interests.

The MDC’s position would be quite simple – let’s go back to the

people and settle this once and for all.”

We were unable to get details of the outcome of yesterday’s meeting

between Mugabe and Tsvangirai but Tsvangirai’s spokesperson, James Maridadi,

said deputy prime minister Arthur Mutambara did not attend the meeting and

therefore Tsvangirai and Mugabe could only have discussed formal government

business and not issues related to their political positions.


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