MDC executive to meet Friday over Mugabe violations

By Lance Guma
26 February 2009

The National Executive of the MDC will meet Friday afternoon to discuss ongoing violations of the unity deal, that brought their party and ZANU PF into the shaky coalition government. On Tuesday Mugabe unilaterally announced the appointment of ministerial permanent secretaries without consulting the MDC. Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and his Deputy Arthur Mutambara then convened a press conference Wednesday to declare the appointments null and void.

On Thursday party spokesman Nelson Chamisa issued a statement saying the supreme decision making body of the MDC would meet to ‘review the status and performance of the inclusive government, in relation to the party’s expectations. The issues include the unilateral appointment of permanent secretaries, the irregular appointments of the Attorney-General and the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe Governor, the issue of provincial governors and the continued detention of MDC and civic activists on trumped-up charges.’
Mugabe continues to dare the MDC to walk out of the coalition government and on Thursday said Reserve Bank Governor Gideon Gono and Attorney General Johannes Tomana would not be removed from their jobs. ‘I do not see any reason why those people should go and they will not go,’ he stubbornly insisted. This is despite Gono presiding over one of the most corrupt and politically driven reigns at the central bank, while Tomana has been accused of willfully blocking the release of political prisoners by abusing the appeal process.

The big surprise however was Mugabe revealing that the country will have a new constitution within the next 18 to 24 months, followed by elections. ‘We are an interim arrangement; we are not a permanent inclusive government. Ahead of us is a whole constitutional process which requires that we address the issue of the constitution. We will then have an election thereafter, perhaps in about two years time,’ Mugabe said. The ZANU PF leader sounded rather too self-assured for someone who lost the presidential elections to Tsvangirai in March last year.

MDC spokesman Nelson Chamisa however told Newsreel Mugabe’s comments were nothing new. He said the life span of the coalition government was clearly set out as 2 years in the deal and they expected free and fair elections in that time.

With Mugabe in defiant mood, political prisoners still in detention, WOZA activists beaten and arrested, continuing farm invasions across the country and other violations, Tsvangirai’s party has done nothing to suggest they wield any state power or have the stomach to walk out. The guarantors of the unity deal, SADC and the African Union, have kept a deathly silence over the violations. Limp statements from South African President Kgalema Motlanthe criticizing the arrest of Roy Bennet for example were blasted as half-hearted and not followed up with any pressure on Mugabe.

Human rights academic Pedzisai Ruhanya told Newsreel that Tsvangirai has no power to do anything and was now simply an appendage of the ZANU PF government. He said the Prime Minister’s lame duck status was evidenced by his complaints through the media, instead of being able to change things through his office. He compared the MDC to a wife in an abusive marriage who keeps saying, ‘things will get better.’ He said the earlier the MDC realize they are being used the better, and they should walk out.

Ruhanya said the history of the interaction between the two parties shows that Mugabe always gets his way. He said the ministries that were unilaterally grabbed and gazetted by Mugabe last year, are the ones which were eventually adopted anyway. He argued the same will happen with the appointment of permanent secretaries, the Attorney General, the Reserve Bank and other appointments. Defending the MDC Chamisa said the decisions they had to make were difficult ones and they understood the frustrations faced by their party supporters. He however said they had several options to respond to Mugabe’s maneuvers.

NB: For the full no holds barred interview between Lance Guma and Pedzisai Ruhanya, tune into Behind the Headlines on Thursday.

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