Tsvangirai says he's committed to a unity govt

Zimbabwe Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai said on Thursday he remained committed to a power-sharing agreement, but demanded the release of detained activists as a condition for implementing it.

He told a news conference in Johannesburg he would meet Zanu-PF leader Robert Mugabe and South African President Kgalema Motlanthe this week to discuss the stalled power-sharing deal signed in September last year.

“I still believe that a political agreement offers the best means of preventing Zimbabwe from becoming a failed state. I am committed to forming a new inclusive government in Zimbabwe and all I lack is a willing partner,” Tsvangirai said.

The MDC leader said he will return to Zimbabwe on Saturday for the first time since November last year.

The agreement is seen as a chance to rescue Zimbabwe, a once-prosperous country whose economy is now in ruins.

A cholera epidemic that has killed more than 2 000 people has added to the humanitarian crisis in the country.

Mugabe, in power since independence from Britain in 1980, has resisted Western calls to step down.

Spiralling crisis
Meanwhile, the failure of African leaders to address Zimbabwe’s spiralling crisis has become a “blot on the credibility” of regional peace efforts, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said in its annual report on Wednesday.

The report singled out South Africa for particular criticism, saying that former president Thabo Mbeki had strayed from the ideals that guided the struggle against apartheid.

“Under [former] president Thabo Mbeki, rather than join a global movement to apply pressure on the Zimbabwean government to stop its repression, Pretoria refused to speak out,” it said.

“As a result, the South African government was seen as backing a repressive leader rather than his suffering victims,” it added.

The report noted that Mbeki had brokered a power-sharing deal between Mugabe and Tsvangirai, but said the pact quickly deadlocked over disputes on how to form a joint Cabinet.

“Zimbabwe’s political situation remains precarious, and the future looks bleak if the political leadership does not end abuses,” it said.

The African Union and the 15-nation Southern African Development Community (SADC) have also failed to take strong action on Zimbabwe, even amid spiralling political violence, worsening food shortages and a deadly cholera epidemic, the report said.

“The role of SADC and the AU remains crucial in ensuring a peaceful return to the rule of law and respect for human rights, but the ongoing situation is a blot of the credibility of their commitment to an effective regional solution,” it added.—Reuters, AFP

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