Tsvangirai: Need for new Zim govt is 'urgent'

Staff Reporter

Zimbabwe's MDC leader, Morgan Tsvangirai, said on Saturday it was "urgent" the country form a new government to ensure food supplies.

Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader and designated Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai said on Saturday it was “urgent” the country form a new government to ensure food supplies and prevent starvation.

“We need to respond to this crisis with utmost urgency. It is therefore imperative that a government be formed in the next few days and begins to implement plans to ensure that our people have food and do not die of starvation,” Tsvangirai said at a press conference in Harare.

He said the food security situation needed urgent attention as there would be “disastrous consequences if we take too long to attend to the crisis”.

The 84-year-old President, Robert Mugabe, in power for nearly three decades, signed an historic accord on September 15 with the opposition that allows him to remain as head of state while Tsvangirai takes up the new post of prime minister.

But the deal so far exists only on paper as efforts to form a unity government have been blocked by disputes over choosing the heads of the main ministries.

“Our negotiators are dealing with the issues [of the Cabinet],” Tsvangirai said, adding optimistically: “I am sure there are no problems in the outline of the agreement that are insurmountable.”

He said he believed the issues would be resolved “once all the principals are in the country”.

He was alluding to Mugabe’s absence from the country this week to attend the opening of the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Mugabe is expected to return later on Saturday.

Zimbabwe’s central bank chief on Thursday said nearly 600 shops had been licensed to sell goods in foreign currency to fight the world’s highest inflation rate and critical shortages of basic goods.

The country’s currency, once on a par with the British pound, has been in a freefall and food as well as basic goods are in critically short supply.

The meltdown and strictures on foreign exchange have led Zimbabweans to shop in neighbouring countries and pushed up the price of local goods.

Mugabe’s government has imposed price controls to cushion shoppers against price hikes, but there is a booming black market where scarce goods are available at more than 30 times the official price.

Critics blame the economic crisis on Mugabe’s policies, including controversial land reforms that saw the government seizing white-owned farms to resettle landless black Zimbabweans, many of whom had no previous experience in agriculture.—AFP

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